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A last bitter taste of Greece

Tom Winnifrith
Saturday 3 May 2014

I watch West Ham beat Spurs, chat to a pleasant Anglo Greek bird who asks to borrow a lighter and turns out to be the daughter of a woman who has met my Dad in the scholarly study of Northern Epirus and it is off to the airport.  I know that it is a fixed fare but the driver starts the meter running.

We arrive and the clock says just under 26 Euro. Manfully he adds in a multiple of the tolls we have paid and we are still only at 31 Euro. So he turns round and having logged the 31 Euro as a print off he says “fixed fare 35 Euro” and shows me the a laminated card laughing.

I know full well that had we had more traffic and the total been 40 Euro he’s have chanced his arm and asked me for 40 Euro because most tourists just pay. That is why he set the meter running for a fixed fare. As it happens the total despite his toll swindle is only 31 Euro so: I pay the 35 Euro. he declares 31 Euro for tax purposes (if that) and 4 Euro disappears into the black economy. I am afraid that this remains the Greek way. Too many folks here think that swindling a foreigner and cheating the tax man is all part of the game.

I accept that it is the Greek way. The taxi driver was just a laughing wanker. I know that. I do not bear a grudge against Greece or the Greek people. I love it here and will be back soon. But one day folks here will have to learn that taxes are not optional and that swindling foreigners so brazenly is not a way to win long term friends.

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About Tom Winnifrith
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Tom Winnifrith is the editor of TomWinnifrith.com. When he is not harvesting olives in Greece, he is (planning to) raise goats in Wales.
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