OPINION

Protecting interests, wishing for failure

«Why doesn’t the minister tell us how many passengers are needed so the company doesn’t incur any losses? I say at least 50,000 and yesterday there were just 3,000. You see, it’ll never work.» This «voice» belongs to a member of the metro workers’ union. I don’t remember his name, but it doesn’t really matter. What does matter is what he said and the tone in which he said it. I wish I could reproduce the spiteful tone of his voice and his certainty that the government’s plan to extend the working hours of the metro and the electric railway by two hours at weekends was doomed to failure. I believe that this voice and the thousands of others just like it are where the real problem lies. I am convinced that there are people – and unfortunately you find these people everywhere – whose only concern in life is that they are not inconvenienced, that their tidy little lives are left untouched, that nothing should ever change for them or for the country. They couldn’t care less if the majority of citizens would like to see the metro working a few hours later at night, banks open in the afternoons, public services closing after 1.30 or 2 p.m. or even stores to open on Sundays if they want to. They couldn’t care less if in other European countries such matters are not even on the agenda for debate. What matters to them is the preservation of their status quo, of their comfort. Even if you promise them more pay for working extra hours, reassure them that they only have to participate if they want to and ensure that more staff will be hired where needed, they will still reject the idea and come up with hundreds of arguments against it. Two or three summers ago, a group of friends and I traveled from Paros and arrived at Piraeus port at 11.30 p.m., tired from the trip and struggling with our luggage. There were hundreds of others just like us all around, eager to get home. There was not a taxi in sight, so we decided to take the train that goes all the way to Kifissia, which suited us all one way or another. We walked to the station, bought our tickets and waited. The station master came out and told everyone that this was the last train and it would be stopping in Omonia. I asked him: «Why Omonia? There are so many passengers waiting here. Couldn’t at least the last train go all the way to Kifissia?» I will never forget his reply: «Are you mad? Do you think we’re going to wait for the ferries before we can finish work?»