Grumpy in Greece?

At the beginning of this summer, I thought I might become the best decision-maker in the world.  Going back to school, taking a special training course, you ask?  No.

Apparently – I have research backing me up on this – being grumpy makes you a good decision-maker.  And at the beginning of this summer, I was preparing to spend the whole summer in Greece, an excellent place for being grumpy.

Now that I am here:  not as grumpy as I thought I’d be.

I certainly had my moment.  After spending a couple days on an island, I took a ferry boat and two buses to reach my family’s hometown in the north. I was welcomed by a two-hour blackout on a Friday night, the result of the power company’s labor union strike, in opposition to the planned privatization of the power company. It seems that the only reason we didn’t have a complete blackout is because the power company’s management was regulating and timing the power cuts. All I heard from people around me was that the power company union workers already have some of the highest pay and benefits around. With the weather at over 80 degrees and a very young niece with a fever, I was not at all amused.  You could say I was grumpy. After the union realized the Greek public was also not amused, and the power company took the union to court and had the strike declared illegal, and small business owners threatened to suit, the union I believe has backed off the strike. Basically, while many people are struggling, some are still pushing the line.

However, overall, I have not found sufficient reason to be grumpy and thereby strengthen my decision-making skills.

I spent one night in Thessaloniki and two and half beautiful days on the island of Skiathos with two lovely American ladies. Everyone we encountered was open and friendly. Every discussion here includes attention to the economic challenges the country and many of its people are facing, but the hospitality of the table next to you buying a round because you shared a laugh, or the restaurant bringing out dessert on the house is still here.

This hospitality brightened all the more for the Special Olympics.

Skiathos hosted the team from the UK while we were there, and I ended up on the same departing ferry as the athletes. While waiting in a crowd at the port at high noon in intense heat, everyone held back, and clapped for several minutes straight as the athletes boarded the ferry, beaming and waving back at the support. The ferry departed 30 minutes late. Not a single person anywhere around me grumbled or complained.  The volunteers stood in the sun and waved at the team until the ferry was well on its way. There were as many smiles in the general crowd as there were among the athletes who were on their way to the games in Athens. Not a grumpy time at all.


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