While we walked back to were I had parked the car, as we approached that spot, I tried to see whether the car was still there and had not been towed away. It was with a sigh of relief that I spotted it quietly waiting for us. It was only when I drove off that we simultaneously saw the pink piece of paper behind the screen wipers. It spelled doom all over it. I had never been fined before in Greece but I instinctively knew that this was a parking ticket. When we got back at the office I pulled it from behind the wipers. It said €65,5 to be paid. We both found that a bit excessive in a country where the average personal income is €655,- a month, but what could we do? It was then that Yvonne detected that the license plate was removed. We were standing at the back of the car and I immediately moved to the front. Sure enough they took the original too. The clock now said 10:30 and I had to start working. We agreed that Yvonne would drive home (with no license plates) and I would go and pay the fine during my lunch break.
When I presented the pink slip to the officer at the police station a good 2 hours later, he asked whether I wanted my license plates back immediately. I found that a rather peculiar question but replied “yes” nonetheless. He grabbed his calculator, tapped a few keys and said: “that’ll be 3 times sixty five and a half euros, plus one euro, so that is: one hundred and ninety six euros and fifty cents, plus one euro”. Ignoring the one euro, but still completely baffled, I must have looked at him like that cow in Mechelen on May 15, 1835, when she saw the first train on the European continent coming from Brussels driving right towards her. Trying to keep the boiling point of my blood down, I asked him if he could explain that to me, as the ticket only showed 65,5 euros. “Well”, he said, “if I wanted the plates back right now, it was 3 times the fine, plus 1 euro, if I wanted to wait 20 days to get them back, it was just 65,5 now, and 1 euro then”. That 1 euro was really starting to get on my nerves! Feeling my blood getting slowly white from the heat, I abruptly turned around and fought my way out of the crowded office. I needed air, cool november air. I could not believe my ears! Close to 200 euros for a parking ticket in a country where the average net salary is 650 euros and in a part where nobody cares where they leave their car parked anyway!?!?! This was clearly a conspiracy aimed at me personally, that much was clear!