Tuesday, February 27, 2007

We don't speak English here

I went to the U.S. Consulate today to pay them money for a service that would be free if I was a Greek citizen (because believe it or not, the Greek government hasn't yet discovered that they can squeeze every blood sucking penny out of their citizens for mundane tasks). I spoke in English, and ironically, they kept responding to me in Greek. Even the Consul apparently had some problem replying to me in English, because she kept speaking Greek.

I appreciate that they need to know and speak Greek fluently to work at a consulate here in Greece, but it is the one place I expect to be answered, and spoken to, in English. They knew I was American, they could tell I was speaking in English. I'd hate to think what would happen to an American who didn't know much Greek should they need consular support in Thessaloniki.

I'll chalk it up to the fact that they probably deal with more Greeks than Americans, and hope the next time I have to pay them money for nothing, they'll do me the courtesy of speaking in English.

3 comments:

EllasDevil said...

Mmm... I always assumed that embassies and consulares would be staffed by at least some people from that country (e.g. Americans at the American consulate) so this surprises me.

bryan-in-greece said...

I find the converse annoying - having lived here for over 20 years, having studied the language at university in Britain and speaking it fluently, I still get some Greeks who know I am English and who insist on answering me in English when I speak to them in Greek...

melusina said...

Well, I know they *do* speak English (I think the consuls and higher ups are always supposed to be from the country of the embassy/consulate - but I could be wrong) but it was weird that they wouldn't.

Bryan, that would annoy me too. But by god when I go in my own consulate I want to be able to speak my own damn language without trying to worry that I was sure what the person was saying in Greek.