(τούτον το ποστ εν γραμμένον στα αγγλικά μετά που αίτημαν της σχέσης, τζαι όι επειδή εν μπορώ να έβρω τες λέξεις στα ελληνικά. Εννά ήταν διαφορετικό στα κυπριακά αλλά άτε, εν πειράζει).
This post, the last in this trilogy of chaos, comes about 7 years after the previous "return to the public service" post
, which is not necessarily an indication that the Cypriot public service has improved, but rather that Erykini has managed to put enough distance between herself and the island. In these 7 years Ι got to experience other public services in Belgium and in England (with the same awe and reserve one would explore a new planet), but fear not, my dear reader, these experiences did not change my expectations of the Cypriot public service, which remain low (as with everything in life I choose to keep low expectations and be positively surprised than the other way around) because... well, I know better than that.
So, when that day came to arrange the wedding documents at Nicosia, I was prepared for the worst. Poor relationship though, oh poor relationship, who had never experienced the Cypriot public service, was in for a treat (as they say in England), although i am not sure you can call it a treat!
I am not cruel, dear reader, honestly, I tried to warn him, to prepare him for the culture shock. Besides, he has been to Cyprus before, I think he got a good hint of how things work here (after his latest trip to the island the relationship declared that he wants to meet the chief of the Cypriot police because the police is not policing enough.You understand = εκαταλαβετε. Oh, if only this meeting could actually happen).
Aaaanyway, I told the relationship that there are no appointments in the public service, we have to go and queue to places and we may need to wait. A lot. I didn't say anything else regarding the quality of the service, because... well, as we all know, its like Russian roulette with the public service: you may survive, you may not.
So, when we walked in at the first office, I was impressed that there was no queue, that the lady immediately helped us and gave us all we needed, but the relationship was more focused on the surroundings, and specifically the huge amount of folders piled at the massive table behind the girl. She gave us the forms to complete and sent us to another desk. I was so pleased we didn't have to wait, I didn't notice the relationship's mind being blown away (= εφυεν η φάτσα του που λέμε στα κυπριακά). At some point as we are walking back to the first desk he asks the question: Did you notice? Neither of these two offices had a computer not even a simple old fashioned calculator. Is this normal?
No, tell me dear reader, what is one supposed to respond to that? Ha? Welcome to Cyprus?
And while the relationship was struggling to understand how on earth they can find anything at all in those piles of paper and whether there is some sort of a system or organization (I didn't say anything, I let him hope), the second shock comes. The lady behind the desk says: "all you need to do now is to swear. Put your hands on the Bible". I think I had about 3 mini-strokes (well 3 myself and 3 the relationship, a total of 6). We looked at each other in shock and then up and down and all around. Only then I noticed that there was indeed a book there. The Bible apparently (I did not open it to check. it could be like a Lena Manta novel just wrapped in the Bible cover. That would at least be funny).
The lady behind the desk gave us a look and a small laugh, like "poor them, they don't know, haha" and told us again to put our hands on the Bible. I pretended I was in an american movie, dear reader, i put my hand on the Bible and said the words.
What can I say, the public service never ceases to amaze me...
(note to self: make a bit less fun of Americans).
At public service number 2, things were a bit less of a shock. We entered a depressing room in a building that should have been demolished a few years ago, with two, not one, two of those little machines that give priority numbers and the relationship was trying to figure out which one to use. I, on the other hand, having prior experience with those machines (see part one
of my trilogy), I didn't bother and went straight to the right desk and asked. The lady surprisingly sent us downstairs to the office cafeteria to make copies of our documents (!!) even though there was a copy machine right behind her. And somewhere between the 7days croissant stand (drooling as i write this) and the Charalampous chipitos (more drooling) on top of the copy machine the sign "5 cents per copy" explained it all.
The relationship was, again, more impressed with what was at the back of the desk: a couple of holy pictures, a couple of pastitsia (somebody has been to a wedding obviously) and some flowers in an Agros water bottle.
And then we went at the third and last service, the city hall. I had been before there, I was confident, everything was going to be fine. Cause the lady at the city hall, I knew, she was great. There would be no surprises for the relationship.
Well, I was wrong. At the very entrance the relationship wondered why there were 3 receptionists sitting at the entrance, wasn't one enough? Couldn't really respond to that. And then, while waiting for our turn, we sat in front of the inside desk, where 3 men were chatting for nothing related to work and behind them the relationship noticed numerous nicely stacked piles of colored paper: yellow, green, blue etc. And in pure amazement asked: Oh My God, do they really do color coding at the Nicosia city hall? I would be amazed. And I could hear that hint of irony in his voice. Immediately after he noticed a little label on a shelf next to the papers. It had the word MASTERPLAN on it and the relationship shocked asked:
There IS a masterplan? I didn't think so !!!
I chose not to answer to that either.
PS: Besides the relationship's irony, this was probably my most successful experience with the public service. Three services, three different buildings all done in 2 hours (including travelling from one place to the other). Amazing !!
PS2: After this trip the relationship learned to trust Cypriots a bit less, adding us to his list of untrustworthiness, after the Mexicans and the Greeks. Well, at least we are after them right ?!!