OPINION

Lamentable Greek ‘idlers’

A difficult Christmas awaits the «lazy Greek,» and I don’t mean the literary hero of Alexandros Papadiamantis who wanted work to be limited to just three days a week. For years, the average Greek citizen has been portrayed by many – mostly on television by people who like the sound of their own voices as they spout opinions and judgments about everything and everyone – like the influential 19th-century writer’s hero, especially by those who never knew that many state school teachers in fact take second jobs driving a cab at night to supplement their incomes. How many times have we seen so-called «successful» people looking scornfully down their noses at those they consider career idlers, those who in reality are forced to take two or even three jobs at the same time, more often than not without social insurance, driving a motorcycle delivering pizzas or doing just about anything else that will allow them to earn the income necessary to retain some degree of self-respect? Do those very same people view the country’s pensioners who have given up on all their dreams of a better life as nothing more than parasites? Yes, those people have persisted with all their lies. They even like to scoff at the «1 million-plus» public servants employed by the state despite the fact that a head count showed them to be far fewer than that. And, of course, they are also quick to label half the work force of the country’s civil service as lazy and the other half as corrupt. Papadiamantis’s idler ends up at a taverna in a lamentable state after having been kicked out by his wife, abused by his mother-in-law, beaten by his brother-in-law, cursed by his landlady and insulted by his 3-year-old son. This – discarded, insulted, beaten and cursed – is how the average «idle» Greek feels, though it is not his family that is to blame for his misery. The average Greek has been thrown out of his job by fast-track processes that allow employers to sack workers or even blackmail them into leaving their posts; he has been tear-gassed by riot police when he tries to protest and insulted by his European peers and those who say that only a whip can get the lazy Greek moving. In the words of Papadiamantis, it seems that the archons of this society have got a lot wrong.