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Wednesday, 28 August 2013

The full catastrophe (Ολική καταστροφή)

It was St Fanourios' feast day yesterday, so we bought a galaktoboureko, and went to our friend Fanourios' house to celebrate his nameday, what was supposed to be our friend's happy little close-to-the-end-of-summer celebration of his name. We were greeted by dour faces which made us wonder whether someone in his Fanouri's family had died and the news had not been relayed to us. But since no one was wearing black (in Crete, we still do this for at least the first 40 days after a death), we felt sure that this could not be the case. The problem transpired as the evening wore on.

Fanouri recently discovered that he is not, as he thought, being paid as a 'permanent' state employee in the position he holds (I can't call it 'the job he does' - he doesn't do much) in the Ministry of Health (some kind of skills-oriented teaching in an occupational therapy environment). He discovered this quite by accident and so he informed his boss, who told him that there must obviously have been some mistake made somewhere. Permanent employees are paid differently from employees who are employed on a permanent rolling contract - the latter get more salary (perhaps that's why Fanouri didn't question anything, as he knew he was receiving more money than some of his colleagues) while the former get εφάπαξ (e-FA-pax), a lump sum payment upon retirement (he was of the belief that he would get this).

But in the state that the State is in, not much can be done about Fanouri's problem unless he hires a lawyer and gets the issue moved to court. But if he goes to court, the way things are going, he can't really be sure of a victory; worse still, if he wins his case (ie, if he is reinstated as a permanent employee), he will probably have to pay back all the extra money he received while mistakenly on a permanent rolling contract.

But Fanouri is in a bit more of a pickle than just that. The accounting office is now moving to another larger metropolitan centre where people do not know him and he does not know them. In the past, when he wanted to earn some extra money on privately-operated government-funded training schemes, his supervisor would OK his application, in full knowledge that he wasn't actually qualified. In fact, Fanouri has no real qualifications, only work experience, because he never finished high school. That doesn't stop him from having a school leaver's certificate though; it was so easy to fake anything in the past, which is how he got his foot in the door to the state sector. All he needed was the right signatures.

But if he goes to court... suddenly everything will be brought to the surface. The extra money, the fake papers, the successful applications that were never properly justified, the signatures on those applications, and who knows what else. Literally everything is now being double-checked. It seems as though someone pressed the button on the Big Brother machine and set everything ino motion. Why on earth that didn't take place earlier is no longer the issue - the fact is that it has happened. And these are not the only things that Fanouri will have to worry about if he ever decides to take the issue to court - he may end up losing his place in the public sector, because he wasn't supposed to be there in the first place...

Aside from his future career and salary prospects, Fanouri also faces another little problem since he stopped paying off his house loan to the bank, because, as he claims, he was given the loan by the state on the basis of his salary at the time, which has now been drastically reduced, therefore it is the state's fault that he can't pay back the money that the state gave him (as he is now arguing in court over that one, too). But since the mergers of some Greek banks, somebody has probably already discovered that Fanouri was never actually in a position where he could not repay his bank loan. He was given a loan from one bank but he had his savings in another bank - which have now become the same bank. And if he is claiming inability to meet his tax debts, well, he's probably in for a nasty surprise there soon.

The game is now over, it seems, as Fanouri's namesake has indeed found everything (like his biography claims about him) that there is to find. Now we need to find a saint that is blessed with hiding everything. But sainthood is more difficult to achieve these days, and miracles are so much more difficult to prove.

Just for the record, I don't anyone that goes by the name of Fanourios. This post simply illustrates the latest news stories. My circles of friends and family are rather varied, as are most Cretans', being insular people, so I do actually know of a number of different people who are suffering the agony of one of the problems that my fictional Fanouri is having to deal with right now, but not the full catastrophe. 

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