Jun 26, 2008

Greek queues. The sibethera technique.

In ANY given Greek queue, there will a.l.w.a.y.s. be someone who cuts in line or instigates an argument how long the queue is and how nothing works in Greece.

Why? Because most Greeks suffer from wait-in-line phobia. These people have an extra gene in their DNA that makes it impossible for them to just shut up and wait their turns. The not-able-to-wait-in-line gene becomes more potent if combined with con-artist mentality of needing to constantly outsmart suckers who actually wait their turns and do things by the book.

Those suffering from "I wouldn't be caught dead waiting in line" disorder have come up with various techniques. In today's essay we examine the "Hey there sibethera! Τί γίνεται βρε συμπεθέρα;" technique.

si-be-the-ra = female in-law,

si-be-the-ros = male in-law

Varying from close to distant in-laws. Used widely by Greeks to acknowledge familiarity. Particularly useful when you can't remember a distant in-law's name.


Went to the post office today to pick up package. When it was my turn, I handed the notice to post office employee, who went off to retrieve my parcel from the racks.

Suddenly a woman about 50-55 squeezes in next to me at the service window. She blatantly disregards people's objections with a "I only want to ask a question", as opposed to the rest of us who want to spend quality time at the post office.

She gives me a quick once-over and the conspiratorial grin that spreads on her face foretells her evil scheme (to overtake this post office first and then the world) and much worse, assumes I'm a push-over.

When the employee comes back with my package, lady-who-cut-line pompously blares "Ti kaneis sibethera?"
[The subtitles: "Look at me you fools! I don't need to wait in line. I KNOW the employee which means I am not a mere mortal like yourselves.]

Employee responds with a lukewarm hello and undertones of "oh no it's you again".
Lady-who-cut-in-line, holds up a bill and asks loudly for protesting chumps to hear that she's ONLY asking, "Can I pay for this here?"
Emloyee: "Yes", rolling eyes, "but you have to wait in line".

Lady-who-cut-in-line, taken aback that the sibethera technique isn't opening any doors for her yet, leans in.
"Really SI-BE-THE-RA? Can't. you. take. it. now?"
Seriously, Internet, she enunciated every syllable with "Godfather" meaning.
I could easily imagine her scratching her jaw like Marlon Brando.

I turn to her, "I think it's only fair to me and the other people here that you wait in line like the rest of us".

Appalled that her grin has been wasted on me she switches to plan B, pity mode: "it's not my bill, I'm doing someone else a favor", "I only asked", "since I'm already here why don't you just let me pay for it?"

Luckily, the post-office employee stood her ground, backed me and the other protesting customers. Lady-who-cut-line admitted defeat and went to the end of the queue.

Employee apologetically whispers to me while I'm signing for my package, "She's not really my sibethera (in-law). I hardly know her".

Yes, I nod in understanding, but excuse me while I do my little victory dance inside my head for all us SUCKERS who wait patiently in lines and deal with her annoying sort all our lives.

related: Seat lurkers, IKA witches