OPINION

The Kimolos coast guard

I don’t know how many of you got to see the video on the Internet showing a ferry docking at the port of the Cycladic island of Kimolos under unbelievable bad weather conditions on March 25. For those of you who haven’t, it’s worth taking a look.

Besides the customary cliches of the “every island ought to have a decent port” kind, the video also demonstrates how many people out there are doing their jobs properly and professionally in this country despite the adversity.

One person who stands out in the video mentioned above is the coast guard coordinating the ship’s mooring operation. He does so with an air of self-confidence and relative composure, even while being engulfed by waves crashing against the dock. I couldn’t help thinking that this man earns something like 700 euros per month, has seen his salary slashed two or three times so far, and yet continues to carry out his job properly.

It’s a miracle how the Greek state has survived over the last three years; it has done so thanks to people who are simply doing their duty: teachers working in freezing schools, army officers serving in remote outposts, doctors who are owed wages doing emergency shifts, police officers protecting us from unscrupulous criminals – they are the pillars keeping the state from collapsing.

Some thought that the cuts would have led them to go-slow action and inactivity, while others are still wondering what keeps them going. Perhaps it has to do with that famous sense of pride deeply buried beneath all the dolce vita, nouveau riche culture.

I also juxtapose the image of the Kimolos coast guard with that of the urban-planning employee, who, in an attempt to get back at the “system,” behaves horribly and in an insulting fashion toward anyone seeking his approval in the construction of a house or any other legal activity. Exactly who do all these people troubling an entire society by refusing to sign a piece of paper think they are avenging?

Or how about comparing our coast guard to another type of public servant, the one hired as a political favor, who does nothing, has no essential position but nevertheless still gets paid? It’s absolutely certain that if the Greek state were to finally deal with such employees in an appropriate manner, the coast guard would earn 80 to 100 euros more every month and you would be paying less in taxes.

One wonders what will happen if the coast guard stops doing his job because he can’t face a new salary cut. Will you be willing to pay taxes in order to pay for the salaries of people who are making your life miserable or doing absolutely nothing?