Everyday exchanges with everyday people with strong opinions and perceptions of foreigners in Greece.
Conversation with a Greek taxi driver
(Translated from Greek)
Taxi guy: Where are we going?
K: I’d like to go to the corner of ___ and ___ , near ____
Taxi guy: OK. Where are you from?
Taxi guy: Where exactly?
Taxi guy: But you don’t have yellow hair.
K: That’s right. I don’t have a red swimsuit and run on the beach in slow motion either.
Taxi guy: What?
K: Not all people from California have blonde hair.
Taxi guy: Yes, they do.
Kat: No they don’t, you watch too much Baywatch or something.
Taxi guy: You’re lying.
K: Have you ever been to California?
Taxi guy: No, but I know.
K: OK, whatever you say.
Taxi guy: So you have a boyfriend?
Taxi guy: Want to go for coffee?
K: No thank you.
Taxi guy: Why? You don’t like me.
K: I’m sure you’re very nice, but I don’t want to go for coffee.
Taxi guy: Then what’s the problem?
K: No problem, I just don’t want to go.
Taxi guy: It’s because you have a boyfriend, isn’t it?
K: I have a fiancé, but that’s not the reason I don’t want to go for coffee.
Taxi guy: No problem. Let’s go for coffee.
K: You have a wedding ring.
Taxi guy: So? It’s just a ring.
K: That’s a lovely sentiment. I’m sure your wife would love to hear that.
Taxi guy: So you don’t want to go for coffee?
K: No thank you. Seriously.
Taxi guy: Pity. What are you, a lesbian?
K: No, I just don’t want to go out with you. Drop me here please, I’ll walk the rest of the way. Thank you!
Conversation on the elevator at work
K: Fourth floor, please.
Lady: Where you from?
K: I’m from America. Where are you from?
Lady: I’m from Korea. What you doing here?
K: I’ve lived here for 10 years.
Lady: Your English is good, you no have accent and speak good.
K: I should, I’m four generations in California. It’s my native language.
Lady: Maybe I thought you no speak English good.
K: Why would you think that? You just met me.
Lady: Don’t know, that’s what I thought.
Conversation with my boss
K: Mr. ___ , are we going to discuss my salary like you promised?
Mr. ___: Sure.
K: Well, I’ve been here for ___ now, and I do a lot more for you than I was originally hired to do. I’m always on time, I work whatever shift you need and since I took over your ___ , our circle of influence has increased and we exceeded our original goals.
Mr. ___: You’re right. So?
K: So, I’m asking you to raise my salary by ___ now. I think it’s only fair based on my performance and the amount of money you earn from my work.
Mr. ___: But you don’t speak fluent Greek.
K: That’s right, the ad you placed for my position didn’t call for it, only basic Greek and native English. I’m a native English speaker with Level 3 Greek, which is actually more than what you asked, and that’s why you hired me.
Mr. ___: Well, you don’t have a university degree.
K: What do you mean? I do.
Mr. ___: It’s not from a Greek university.
K: You’re right, it’s better. It’s from an American university.
Mr. ___: It’s not from a university I recognize.
K: Mr. ___ , it’s from the same university as your son. In fact, you asked me to help him write his personal statement and he got in.
Mr. ___: Uh well, you don’t speak fluent Greek. So, no raise. Go back to your office.
Mr. ___: Conversation is finished.
* I quit and left for a better job less than 60 days later.
Conversation with the Alfa Vita woman
(Translated from Greek)
At checkout with my reusable AB Vasilopoulos bag.
AB: Where did you get this bag?
K: From my fiancé’s mother.
AB: There’s no tag on it.
K: She took it off before she gave it to us.
K: I don’t know, maybe she didn’t know it was important.
AB: (Looking at the bag, then me) Well, where did she get it?
K: I don’t know, do you want me to call and ask her? I have a phone.
AB: No, but I need the tag to scan it.
K: OK, but she took the tag off. What can I do? I take tags off of things after I buy them too; no one told us to NOT take it off.
AB: Well, I can’t give you credit for it.
K: Fine, you never give me credit for using the bag anyway.
AB: That’s because it’s suspicious.
K: OK, fine. Do you want me to pay for it again? I have money, I have no reason to steal things.
AB: No, but you’re not getting any credit for it.
K: Yeah, I’m not a koufos. I heard.
* A friend in the north tells a story about trips to the supermarket that could easily be from my life, called “Unnecessary Tension.” I suppose after 15 years, my nerves are deadened.
My friend Niko believes I like to stay home because it’s the only time I’m not being hassled. Me? I see them as stories I can laugh about after rolling my eyes, shaking my head, and resisting the urge to slap someone.