April 20, 2010. Athens, Greece
Millions of Athenians are stranded today— No cigarettes. No Depon. No rental signs. No newspapers. Or, favorite magazines—until midnight.
The mainstay of the Greek Economy—The Periptero—is on strike!
If you are unfamiliar with the most recent contribution of Greek culture to Western civilization, know that perhaps its most prodigious child, The Periptero, has won its way into the hearts of millions—not only those who live in Greece, but those who travel here, as well, and desperate for a pack of cigarettes at 2 AM, say, will manage to find a Periptero to feed their nicotine fix.
Rectangular-shaped, with just enough room for the proprietor to sit and sell products, Periptera serve to meet every Athenians’ need—from cigarettes to pharmacy to bookstore to hardware store to telephone service provider to distributor of public transportation tickets to place to hoard those famous Snickers bar, should you have the inclination to consume one of those things.
The strike took me by surprise—as others—when, as I approached one, cordoned-off with plastic ribbon, and which looked open, but which was, as I quickly discovered, not really open. Thrown-off in addition by a squad of police officers who were inspecting a vehicle parked in front of the Periptero, I thought perhaps this was an isolated incident. But my suspicions were soon corrected, once I crossed the street, and found another Periptero similarly cordoned-off with ribbon.
The owner who emerged from the shadows informed me the Periptera were on strike.
Woe, unto me.
I had merely 5 cigarettes left and would soon approach the desperate stage of my nicotine addiction.
A bystander stood behind the strikers, saying, “These guys essentially pay the government to sell us cheap cigarettes. How are they expected to make any money?”
After more discussion, as well as instructions on where to find the nearest place to purchase a pack of cigarettes, I left, confident, actually, because I knew exactly where I had to go to find a pack of cigarettes—back to the neighborhood store.
Unlike the Periptera laced with ribbons, the ones closer to home had been completely shuttered, as illustrated by the photograph below.