Waiting for… Godot
Here in Athens, the trains seem to have adopted the habits of their citizens…
You have an appointment at 9.00 o’clock but those will come after 20 or 30 minutes, will cross the platform with a smile as if nothing happened and won’t even find an excuse for their delay. It’s not important if you’re sweating – do not forget that here is still summer-or standing thirsty waiting desperately! The train will never come on time!
Arriving at at the station of Neratziotissa, I searched for a few minutes the timetable with the train schedule, a habit which I had acquired in Italy because of my “daily relationship” with the train stations and my fury of checking every single minute whether is everything under control and on schedule! Everything there must be planned, what time do you wake up, how many minutes do you need to get to the train station, how many stops until Milan, everything around you is numbers, numbers that encircle you and make you nauseous … but that’s how it goes .. time is money don’t they say?
Turning back to the station Neratziotissa , I noticed that although the electronic boards with the time schedules have been placed in the station for over a year … they still remain wrapped and carefully closed in cellophane! They’re out of order and there is not even a notice of the date that will be on… Everything is on the air! The time that the next train is coming is a surprise, an adventure and the time that you gonna arrive at home or at your work is a miracle!
I observe the people around me, they don’t have a clue on when the train will arrive at the platform but they don’t seem particularly preoccupied. I wonder if I’ve changed so much, did I become such a control freak that I can’t even bare standing on a train platform without knowing the exact time of the arrival? Just for a moment I’ve remembered the platform number 2, the minutes that I was waiting there and always seemed an eternity, and still the many things you could do in the next 5 minutes of the train delay … And then I realized how much more things you can do in the greek platforms …
You have time not only for smoking a cigarette, but you have time to smoke the entire package too. You have time not only to hear one song but the whole album, you have time not only to talk with a stranger but to be in a relationship with him. You have time not only for a small espresso but for a whole cup of frappe coffee, and still you have time for playing backgammon and chat with your 300 facebook friends!
The trains in Greece are as its people, they don’t have standard hours, they always take their time and don’t hurry, they let you wait and won’t ever give you explanations … but the most important thing of all, they always smile and if you ask them why on earth were they late, they’ll answer you two simple things:
1. We had an appointment between 9 and 9.30. If you’ve arrived at 9 o’clock it’s not my fault that I got here at 9.30, we are both on time!
2. I’m a little late because I’ve stopped to drink a frappe with Tasos and I thought that It would be better to give you some time to smoke your entire cigarette while you were waiting for me on the dock so I wouldn’t force you to throw your cigarette due to my early arrival.
My train arrived just after putting my last dot in this specific text … So the Greek trains won’t ever interrupt you! They always give you as much time as you need to finish any activities while you are waiting for them in the platform and will also tell you to take your time … because here no one is in a hurry! Do not worry about anything! You’re in Greece mate!