Greeks do what they want. They are not concerned with time or following a precise system. Much of this stems from the fact that Greeks are freethinkers – the original freethinking man. Discussion is perhaps the most valued Greek pastime; and man can conversing Greeks pass the time.
10 minute coffee break on the job? Try 3 hours over which 1 (count um 1!) drink is enjoyed/sipped. It’s really an art form, to make your beverage last that long. Think that the owners will get pushy if you stay that long and only order a 2 euro drink? Quite the opposite actually; they immediately think tourist. Lucky for me, my general appearance identifies me as a tourist rather than the rate at which I drink coffee. What happens over this long coffee? Just talking with friends. I have never known a culture that values friendship so strongly. No one is ever too busy to sit with his or her friends and converse for hours on end. No blackberries, no laptops just good company.
Smaller stores don’t abide by exact hours of operation. Restaurants will serve you till the wee hours of the morning, but not generally before 1pm ever. And taxis do not always take you where you want to go. “Gazi parakalo,” we asked one cab driver Friday night. “Ohi, too much traffic sorry. I can take you to Syntagma?” Huh? No? Isn’t that illegal? Did he say no because we weren’t Greek? Maybe, it happens. And there are no laws (like there are in NYC) that prevent taxi drivers from denying someone a ride.
Our professor later told us that the taxi driver probably said no merely because he didn’t want to drive through traffic. But even our professors are caught off guard sometimes. When I ventured with Joanna to buy a student monthly transportation pass, we were told, “Ohi. We might have some on Monday.” Even though they were posted as being available. Joanna was certainly annoyed, as it requires a specific student id, passport, and passport picture for me to attain the transport pass (essentially the same requirements for a student visa). But she wasn’t surprised and I wasn’t really either. After all, in America the DMV is in no way anymore helpful or efficient.
As much as I’ve come to love living on Greek time, I wouldn’t say the same for Greece’s transportation system. And while, you can’t always get what you want, you can try sometimes, and you just might find you’ll become a little more Greek.