All of our mail is handled through the US Embassy, so I didn’t think I’d have occasion to visit the Greek post office. But it appears now I’m going to be going there every month so our housekeeper can have health insurance.
Yes, I know. That makes no sense. Again. Because…Greece.
Let me start from the beginning because this information may actually come in handy for anyone needing to hire household help. Until recently another employer was handling our housekeeper’s health insurance. But now that family is gone and we’re her primary employer. It took a few weeks to sort out the details. First I had to fill out some paperwork with the Customs department at the embassy in order to get a Greek tax ID number. I had to get it notarized at a KEP location (You’ll remember I had some adventures in parking there…), and then once I had the tax number, I had to take it back to the KEP with my passport and MFA ID to get an AMKA number. Then I had to take all of that to a post office along with my housekeeper’s salary for that month, fill out another form, and bring her a receipt.
That last part I was a bit fuzzy on. My housekeeper explained it all to me but, bless her heart, she’s a little hard for me to understand, so I just had to sort of wing it. I found a post office just a few blocks from my house. (On a side note, you’re welcome to the people of Halandri for getting such good practice with your English. After stopping to ask someone exactly where this post office is, and reminding her the words for “left” and “right”, I finally found the place. I am eternally grateful for all these English speakers.) It didn’t look much like a post office from the outside. More like a bank, with an ATM machine in the front and what looked like teller windows inside. There were rows of chairs, and you had to take a number, like at the DMV. And the wait was just about as long.
Finally it was my turn. My housekeeper had coached me on the Greek word to say when I got to the counter. I wrote it down phonetically: Erkosimo. The woman at the counter pointed to the guy sitting next to her. Apparently he handled the Er-kos-eemo thingies.
But, it turned out, he didn’t speak much English. I told him “Erkosimo.” He sort of scratched his head, looked in a file drawer, then walked in the back. He was gone for awhile. Presumably to get a coffee. When he came back he had a form in his hand. He was trying to explain to me how to fill it out, as it was all written in Greek. As we fumbled back and forth, he kept getting more and more agitated, until finally he stopped talking to me and started talking irately to the lady next to him. I’d like to imagine the conversation went like this:
HIM: Crimony, she doesn’t speak any Greek. How am I supposed to explain this to her? Even I can barely understand why we do it this way.
HER: I speak English. How about you let me handle this?
HIM: But no! I’m supposed to do the Erkosimos! Why doesn’t this lady know Greek?! Fine, if you know English so well, you explain it to her!
Then he thrust the form angrily in her direction. She gave me a sort of knowing look, then motioned me over and helped me…in ENGLISH…fill out the form. Then I had to wait until he finished up with another person so he could finish doing…whatever we were doing. As I waited I watched a woman put 23 stamps on a small package. I shit you not.
Turns out I needed to bring my passport with me for this little transaction, which of course I’d forgotten. Thankfully I could run home in less than five minutes and grab it. So, having done that, and filled out the form, and handed over the money, I finally got the receipt. Yes! Now I have to do this again every month. Ooooh-hee!
Next time should be easier, I should think. I’ve got some blank forms I can fill out ahead of time, and now I know to bring my passport along with my other documents. And as long as I don’t wait until the last few days of the month, the line shouldn’t be that long at the post office. I’m sure like everything else here that seemed like a pain in the ass when I first started doing it (ahem, like the toilet paper situation), it’ll become a fairly easy habit.