Four-digit salvation

As I was returning from the kiosk the other day, a car soaked me from head to toe. The same old story: a huge pothole in the middle of the road, no sidewalk on which to seek sanctuary, and motorists with inflated egos who think they’re cruising down a Los Angeles highway. I stood where I was for a moment, motionless, angry, exasperated, my hair dripping wet. Before I could protest, the car had sped off at lightning speed. This is modern-day violence. On my way home, I pondered the contrast between the government’s recent successes on the European level and the grim reality in Greece. I decided the incident was a good focus for an article and called the new four-digit telephone hotline set up to field complaints about potholes. In spite of last week’s pledges regarding modernization, no one answered my call. It was a Sunday, you see, and the answering machine was off. So, the phone continued to ring monotonously at the heart of the irrationality of this fruitless system of middlemen which many years ago spread its tentacles into Greek courts, public services, tax offices and banks. Like a deus ex machina, this four-digit line seems to have been set up as a substitute for local government – that is, for decentralization, initiative and a sense of responsibility. It codifies and perpetuates our inability to act without middlemen, centralized authority, and redundant words.