Journey to a Greek Island



Posted by Ed 4 mths ago
All my life I had longed to go to the Greek Islands—the bright sun and sea, the ancient stones and stories. Now I'll always have Paros.

Line discipline, or the lack of it, Calvin Trillin once said, tells you everything you need to know about the way a country and a culture organizes itself. Line (or rather “queue”) discipline in England is absolute: You get a place and keep it. In Italy it is unknown, replaced by a cheerful every-man-for-himself scrum with no start or finish—whoever pushes hardest ends up first.

In America an elaborate system of apparent, even if inequitable, order has to be introduced; give Americans boarding cards and numbered zones and they will grudgingly advance as told.

(The most eerily impressive queue discipline I have ever seen was on an Icelandair flight from Reykjavik; all the passengers, mostly Icelanders, had boarded the plane and taken their correct seats in a silent flowing consensus without a single announcement being made.)

I was waiting for a ferry from the Greek island of Paros to Crete—with the wind blowing crisply at the dock and the sun high in a clear blue sky—when I first understood the Greek way with lines. First, a short one forms.

Then an individual approaches, stands nearby, and has a conversation with a friend, and a new line forms, while the original line, seeing that it is being usurped by another, instead of protesting simply edges its way toward the front of the new line, partially fusing with it.


Ed 4 mths ago

Ed 4 mths ago

Ed 4 mths ago

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