Athens with the kids. We are having fun, seeing family, friends, and the sights. However, there is a lot of frustration here, and it’s tough to get around — both literally and figuratively. Trying to get from one place to another is a challenge. In one month, we have seen strikes aplenty: a garbage strike, two separate taxi strikes, a few metro strikes.
The metro strike: imagine if every subway train in New York shut down for 24 hours. Inconceivable without a natural (or sadly, un-natural) disaster. However, a fact of life here is that every day you have to check the news to see which mode of transport will be unavailable. For an economy that thrives on (or right now barely survives on) tourism, this is mind-boggling.
So, if you can’t take the metro and you can’t get a taxi, how about renting a car? Ahh, driving in Athens. It should be an Olympic sport (you lose, you die). However, there’s a new element to driving this time around — the squeegee guys are here!
My first thought, clouded by jet-lag and newly-acclimated to the hell that is humidity, when we arrived here was that this is a city that desperately needs Rudy Guiliani. You see, Athens reminds me of (my memories of) 1980’s New York City. It may be the neon clothes, asymmetrical hair, or the music (ahhhhh, the Europop 80’s music is back!), but what really reminds me of the 80s is the squeegee guys.
Back in the 80’s, we would drive from Pennsylvania for a Yankee game and arrive in New York through a tunnel. As soon we emerged, the squeegee guys would descend, like so many pigeons to a potato chip. Flash forward to Athens in 2011. The squeegee guys are everywhere here. Every street corner holds the possibility of a greasy windshield for pocket change. These guys are less aggressive than my memories of the New York variety, but they are ubiquitous, nonetheless.
Say what you will about Rudy Guiliani, but he got rid of the squeegee guys. In real estate terms, he spiffed up the curb appeal of a city. The next thing you know, Disney bought Times Square, and tourists began to feel safe, and descended upon the city to buy wickedly overpriced Broadway tickets and I heart NY tchotchkes. Maybe, just maybe, Guiliani could come here, get rid of the squeegee guys, and the the dominoes will start falling away from default.
So…how about it Rudy? Wanna come to Greece and arrest a few squeegee guys?