Sunday, July 23, 2006

Youngest Son and the Greek Police

I know I'm jumping around chronologically here but I want to get this one on paper before I forget.

Two weeks ago we were still in the throws of the missing passport and just about everywhere we read said to "report it to the local police". On Sunday that is what we decided to do instead of taking a three and a half hour bus ride to see, (surprise!), ruins and columns at Delphi.

We sent Oldest son with Mr C, who's pain threshold for viewing ruins and columns far exceeded everyone else's and the three of us went to the local police station.

We asked the hotel staff where the local police station was and we were off on the metro to Glyfada.

Getting on the metro was easy, as we used it the day before from Athens to the hotel with the group. Getting off was another issue. We didn't realize that unless someone is waiting at a stop, the metro keeps going unless you push the big red button telling the driver that you want to get off.

So we watched as our stop went by and got off when the train reached the final stop two stops later.

We decided rather risk going 500 stops in the wrong direction towards Athens, we would use our trusty map and walk. We walked several blocks past all the closed shops.In Greece everything shuts down on Sundays. Finally, we made it to the police station.

We asked the policeman out front if he spoke English and we wanted to report a missing passport. All he said was "two".

I said "what?"

He said "zzzecond floor".

So off we went to the second floor which was actually harder than it sounds. We went up two flights of stairs and told the police woman "we want to report a missing passport" and she said "two". It was then we realized the police station had floors 1a and 1b and 2a and 2b etc.

We continued our search for "two" and arrived at a policeman in plain clothes who told us to wait in the hallway. There were two other non-police type guys standing in the hallway, one of which was wearing a T-shirt I will never forget.

It was a parody of a Nike logo "swoosh" but the swoosh was a exhaust trail off a jet headed for the twin towers. The caption read "just do it". I was really pissed at the shirt but didn't say anything.

Finally the plain clothes policeman brought us into a dirty, windowed office with just a desk and a phone. Into the office came a uniformed woman policeman who spoke some English to take our sad story down for a report.

She wanted to know my name so I gave her the full name on my passport thinking that the whole story about how I use my middle name instead of my first name because my mother didn't like my first name but I use the first initial was a bit too much detail for both her English and the situation.

The Greek plain clothes policeman said "two names?" (again with the two? Is this only English word these people know?).

Yes I have two names. A first name and a middle name. Again this is too much detail so I skip it.

"Yes two" and for some reason I feel myself almost speaking in a cheesy Greek accent like "yezzzz, two". I can not explain this phenomena.

She wants to know Youngest Son's name and I stick with the "name on the passport" strategy.

"Two names?" He asks, this time really questioningly.

"yezzz, two". I did it again. I can't help it now.

Mrs F is right there but they don't want to ask her a thing. It's like she's invisible.

They ask me my parents names and I give them their full names. Apparently, the Greeks are big on genealogy.

"Again, two names?????" he asks. This time his tone is as if it's inconceivable that four people have two names. Do people in Greece only have one name? Have you never had a lost passport before? If this were Spain you would have like 15.

I'm thinking "yes, in America we are all really, really rich and we can afford two names for everyone but we only have one floor labeled 2" but I keep it to myself. But we are still puzzled by the whole two name thing.

Finally they produce a report in Greek that states that Youngest Son lost his passport at the hotel and that he is my son and I am the son of my parents - no mention of my wife who is sitting in the room with us.

It reads "blah blah blah blah MY FULL NAME blah blah blah MY FATHERS FULL NAME blah blah blah blah MY MOTHERS FULL NAME blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah THE NAME OF OUR HOTEL blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah".

All in Greek except that names.

We take the official looking document and put it away and the last thing the police tell us to
"report it if we find the passport". This will become important later.

After sitting through that and the pain of the last 24 hours we decide that the boy needs a break so we head off to McDonald's down the street.

He had a McRoyal with cheese, Mrs F had a McGreek and I had the best Big Mac I have ever had in my life.

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