Greeks have entrepreneurial blood running through their veins. Sometimes, this can show up in everyday life situations. Recently the government issued a dead line for all landowners to register their property with the Hellenic Cadastre. This was done to create a modern, fully automated record of properties throughout Greece. My father-in-law employs a talented young man, Thanasis, who has a gift dealing with the bureaucracy that still entangles much of the country. This young man just knows exactly how to deal with state employees. He chats to them, makes them feel special, and comes across as one of them. He is an invaluable asset.
As the day of the deadline for the registration approached, Thanasis was sent to complete the mission. There was only one problem: Thanasis had to take care of his baby son in the morning, and was only able to turn up at the registration office at 10:00 am. Other citizens, who all waited in a huge queue, packed the room. An electronic board indicated the current waiting number that was up. It showed number 34. Thanasis picked up the little paper with from the queuing machine – he got number 114, and he faced a Mission Impossible. The registration office closed at 2 pm, and there simply was no way that his number would be called up in time. He would need to return the next morning to pick up a new number and wait again. Yet his instincts told him to keep hanging around. He started chatting with some fellow citizens. A sweaty man asked him what his number was. Thanasis showed the paper with a sad facial impression. The fat man smiled knowingly and told Thanasis to check out the copy-shop just across the street.
He went to the shop and told the owner of his dilemma. Thanasis was taken behind the counter, where the copy-shop owner had about 10 little papers from the registry office, all with much lower numbers. Every 20 minutes he would simply go to the register office, pick a number from the queuing machine, walk back to his shop, waiting for takers. He sold Thanasis number 52 for 10 Euros. Within two hours, the Mission Impossible had been completed. Thanasis told me proudly that it had been a hot day, and that the copy-shop owner even gave him a cold orange juice free of charge!