Our baby daughter (The Cute) turned 3 years old last week and I report that the party was a success and everything went smoothly. And I didn’t starve the guests – though a few of them brought extra food; just in case.
It is kind of a tradition for us to make a post on The Cute’s birthday but this time, I will share how I “used” my child to get through the Greek public sector.
Repeatedly if I may add – and I would do it again in a heartbeat. (Post includes EPIC Spanish video.)
First of all, it is my understanding that the Greek public sector is not the worst in the world. It is just like many other public sectors of other countries. I say this, as a survivor of a visit to the dreaded RMV. And I say dreaded, because several people warned me to brace myself when I had to go switch my driver’s license.
They were right.
Well, neither Greece, nor USA are alone in this. Que this EPIC video from Spain (about 3 and a half minutes long):
Spaniards, Greeks and Americans, are again, not alone as seen by the following video with the British take on it ( 9 minutes long but I couldn’t stop laughing). And I suppose, if one keeps searching, one will find a public sector comedy video, for every country in the world.
Back to how I “used” my child to get through the public sector, I will share 3 examples. They all have to do with the public sector’s services (and long, long waiting lines).
Case 1 – when I first noticed my daughter’s potential
We were in the department of birth registration – which I ended up visiting 3 times, every time missing a paper or having the wrong papers (my fault; not theirs). In that department, they are using the same computers you might saw in the British video – the ones that take forever to load and then “say no”.
The supervisor, was an older lady who refused to serve anybody who went to her desk. She seemed really focused on her computer and rarely bother to look up when she repeatedly said “it’s not my job”. (Truth be told, there was a sign about the one – and only one – thing she was supposed to do and everybody was asking for different services than that.)
After a bit over 2 hours, it was finally our turn and we walked up to a booth where a gentleman had to assist us. Visualize: a 2 year old toddler in a closed space, with no toys = a frantic mama desperately trying to avoid her tot’s public meltdown and crankiness.
While I was trying to plead my case (of insufficient translations), juggling over 43 different official papers, I was simultaneously, trying to keep an eye on my tot at all times. My tot that had finally, reached her limit and had started to fuss.
It took seconds for my child to disappear.
It did seem like just 1 second.
As long as it took me to look toward the assisting clerk.
I kinda…screamed my daughter’s name.
She didn’t respond. (Thankfully every other person in that room did and they told me where my daughter was – just a few feet away.)
She was busy.
Busy playing computer games, sitting on the lap of that strict, supervising lady, in her office.
That hawk of a public servant I mentioned in the beginning of the story, had come all the way out, took The Cute by the hand and took her back behind the counters and desks AND somehow found games appropriate for a 2 year old (I checked).
When I went to pick up my daughter, they both (!) refused to stop playing.
I actually had to wait until they were done.
Case 2 – the best IRS visit ever
Tax bureaus are busy, no matter in which or what country you live. Tons of paperwork and the usual “slow” computers. And then, there is the “look” (just like in the Spanish video). The look that makes citizens worried. It makes me worried – for no other reason than dreading the paperwork.
I took The Cute along, just to test the theory that her charm would work with IRS, too.
The moment the clerks saw The Cute, well…
They (yes, plural) too, took her behind the desks. They fed her snacks and cookies (after they checked with me if it was ok). They played videos for her on their cellphones and cuddled her. They handled our paperwork so fast, my head spun and they even completed a registration that was not their job so I didn’t “have to wait and get my daughter tired”.
I couldn’t believe it.
That had never, ever happened to me before. IRS always meant hours of waiting and stress but, not this time.
It became obvious that, having The Cute with me, was like having a super power.
Case 3 – Official translations;
possibly the most overworked department in the Greek public sector
The place was packed. It was crazy busy. The clerks were running up and down trying to help shorten the waiting lines that extended well outside the large rooms, all the way down the stairs.
After a couple of hours waiting in line, I approached the booth with a pack of paperwork at hand. The civil servant was having a really bad day and he wasted no time in showing me just how upset he was. Not only he didn’t like how I had filled in the papers, he told me off – repeatedly – and got pretty angry because…I had used a plastic pen I had found on a far away table and didn’t guess I had to bring the pen to him.
So, he sent me to retrieve the pen (had to pry it free from the hands of another customer) and bring it back. A nameless plastic pen mind you.
He still wasn’t happy, he was quite offensive in his manner and it seemed like I would have to return another day if I wanted anything done. It felt like my very presence annoyed him.
But I didn’t give up. I had a super power with me.
And I used it: I picked The Cute in my arms and now she was visible to him (the booths were tall).
You would not believe the transformation!
He immediately smiled at her, gave her the pen (and some paper) to play with, did all sort of funny faces for The Cute’s sake, offered her candy and not only did he finish my paperwork, he corrected it so I didn’t have to pay 3 times more than I had to.
When we left he said goodbye and waved enthusiastically. To The Cute. Not to me.
There is something about this little girl that makes strangers like her. Perhaps it’s a magic that all little ones possess? Maybe it’s how she clumsily (but with gusto) dances around herself even in public places. Perhaps it’s the way she enthusiastically waves at complete strangers and greets them with a big smile.
I do not know what makes her such a people’s person but I sure hope, this magic follows her through her whole life.
And if you see a child greeting you passionately
just because you were having a latte,
5 yards from where she was walking,
that’s The Cute.
And she just turned 3.
ps. the whole post while true, is written in a humorous spirit. Now, I don’t do humor very well so, *insert disclaimer*: there is no intention whatsoever to offend anyone. The stories are true, just shortened.