Driving in Greece Worse Than Walking in Saigon
July 11, 2011 § 8 Comments
In Saigon, I was shrieked at for taking a step backward, as a solid phalanx of motorcycles came thundering upon me as we all held hands crossing the street.
“Never go backward!” shouted my mother and her two friends (though they did so in Cantonese). “No one expects you to go backward! Don’t look back, don’t go back!”
Soon I understood the Saigon traffic wasn’t the chaos it appeared to be but another sort of order: everyone drives shoulder to shoulder and pedestrians stride carefully into the stream, so long as everyone is responsible for what is ahead of her. No one looks behind. No one passes. Once you understand that, Saigon traffic works.
In Greece, however, the only rule seems to be that no matter how careful you are, some Greek driver is going to drive like shit in your presence and blame you for it.
- Cars taking up two lanes
- Cars coming suddenly to a stop and parking in the middle of the road for no apparent reason
- Passing at speed on the right shoulder
- Cars driving on the double yellow center line on a two-way street
- An inattentive cellphone-using driver who cursed a car that had signaled (must have been a tourist) and slowed to turn right
- Cars trying to pass on the right while someone ahead is turning right
- Drunken drifting (a lot of this)
- Women with children crossing major four-lane avenues in the middle, using their children or baby strollers as human shields
- Stop signs utterly ignored
- Crosswalks utterly ignored
- Traffic lights utterly ignored
- Motorcycling morons with no helmets tearing down the road between car traffic
Greeks are fond of blaming tourists for all this bad driving, but ask yourself truly: would tourists curse in Greek?
I need to figure out what to scream at the weekend drivers from Athens who come pouring fast down the middle of our little side street and honk at us and shout that we can’t go up that street because it’s a one-way street, which it is not, which we know because we live here. I think the correct phrase will be some translation of “it’s a two-way street, like your ass.”
For your education, here are a few videos of indigestion-inducing Greek driving.