My last experience with Greek bureaucracy was probably the very worst and the very best at the same time. Living in Greece for 34 years has brought me up against that machine plenty of times. Whatever you need to have done, you have got to bring with you plenty of time, very strong nerves and energy, (water, food and some reading material can come in handy). You also need to start out very early, to ensure a good place in the queue, which you will undoubtably face standing outside the building, by opening time it can be as large as 50 people!!!
So, worst experience….I was trying to get some paperwork done for my Mom and had all the necessary legal papers to represent her with me. After three days of running around and asking one ignorant civil servant after the other, who all must have either ended up in their positions of supervision by pulling the winning ticket of a lottery or by the infamous Greek traditions of favoritism, I found myself waiting for the Head of the Department who arrived from a shopping spree more than 45 minutes after the offices open. I presented my case and she grabbed hold of the paper work and took a look…then she screamed WHAT, THIS LADY IS A GERMAN??? A stillness was creeping over me…then she continued shrieking …A GERMAN? WHY DON’T YOU TELL MRS. MERKEL TO FIX THIS PAPER FOR HER AND TO PAY FOR HER??? I AM NOT SIGNING ANYTHING FOR ANY GERMANS, THEY ARE DRINKING OUR BLOOD, AND ARE SUCKING US DRY!!!! By then, I was sitting on a chair next to her desk and in my mind, I saw myself jump over the desk and go at her throat…it was such a vivid experience and I was shaking with a rage, I have never felt before, then I reached for my papers and literally fled in a hurry, because I did not think that I would be able to control myself, if I heard another word come out of her mouth. At that moment, I really understood the term going postal.
(This was indeed the best example of Greek incompetence, in three days, I found no one who could help me, believe me when I say, it was nothing unusual, and the behavior I encountered was not exclusive, this is what happens all the time!!! It is a blessing that Greeks do not have the right to bear arms, Civil servants would be on the endangered species list!!!)
In Germany, people complain about the bureaucracy, but they do not understand how good they have it. You can make appointments through the websites and avoid the wait, which incidentally is hardly ever long, if you opt for the pulling the number. The waiting rooms are pleasant and heated, have reading material and a flat screen T.V. The employees are skilled, friendly and actually know their jobs. The are properly trained for their positions and demonstrate respectful mannerism appropriate for their dealings with clients, which is the official term for someone seeking help in their offices. It is possible to get your queries answered without having to opt for bribery!!!