The difficult daily life and the fears of the kiosk
Customers who went elsewhere - Packaged and intact return newspapers, like "crazy" sell magazines with crossword puzzles
"The streets are dark and the people are hidden
Empty squares, empty stations, my heart is frozen
A deserted city, everyone is missing, neither joy nor sorrow
Deserted city, everyone is missing, since joy is missing
Give me love to be caught in the dying city "
This song of hers seems to be more relevant than ever Anastasia Moutsatsou 26 years have passed since Nikos Portokaloglou wrote it and she interpreted it uniquely in 1994.
People locked themselves in their homes and turned the key two or three times to keep the coronavirus out of them. Squares, streets and hangouts that used to be full of life, are now deserted and have been replaced by rolled shutters, padlocks and signs that: "the store will remain closed due to coronavirus». As desolation and fear spread, so does the "frost" find space in the hearts.
In this desolation that prevails around us, there are "cells" that prove that there is still life out there and that soon everything will return to normal as long as we believe it, take precautions and, above all, adapt to the new reality that has brought with it coronavirus.
People that a while ago we hurriedly passed them or "flew" them with a quick good morning because we had to leave to go to that appointment on the other side of Athens and we did not know how much traffic we would encounter on the National Road or in Kifissia. Then we had no time to lose. But now we are looking for a conversation with them. Now we are in quarantine...
What are these "cells"?
These are the people who are locked in their 1,70m x 1,50m box, in some cases, all day and all night. Yes, I'm referring to kiosks.
The traffic ban imposed on Greece It came as a precaution against the virus but also from those few bald-headed people who ostentatiously turned their backs on the words "individual responsibility" circulating in the streets and saying to television cameras: "I am not afraid of the coronavirus." Okay madam, you are not afraid of him. Me, my parents, my friends, the elderly and the babies I have around me, what is your fault? If you are a carrier and pass it on to me and then I in turn to them? Have you thought about it? Obviously not…
"Act like you have the virus and you do not want to spread it," said Mr Tsiodras, who is right. But how do you fit these 13 words into the minds of some? So the prohibition by law and they calmed down.
Of course, I follow the measures strictly too. But once a week I will go out to get the essentials from the supermarket and I also go through the kiosk in the neighborhood below, as what is under my house is now closed due to the coronavirus.
So a few days before the shutters came down, Alexandros, the owner of the kiosk, had told me: “Things are difficult, Sofia. The turnover fell sharply. It is not worth keeping it open and afraid and not getting stuck on top. I will sit at home with my mother and we will see ". And one morning it just did not open due to coronavirus…
Of course, he is not the only one who made this difficult decision. Characteristic of the situation that prevails is that of the 1.200 kiosks that exist in the favorite Thessaloniki only 350. "The industry is open, but since people do not move, there is no turnover and most have closed their stores voluntarily," said in a recent interview with the Athens News Agency the president of the Association of Tobacco Sellers, Conveniences and Kiosk Tenants Of Macedonia, Costas Iakovou.
But what about those kiosks that have been left open? I will describe the situation in my area. In an area of the center, densely populated which still holds the meaning of the neighborhood as we see it in the old Greek movies.
"Our turnover has dropped by almost half. Others tell me. If this situation continues, it is not excluded that we will be forced to close as well ", says Mrs. Maria, protected behind the safety glass, while putting the bags in the bag antiseptics wipes, magazines and essential smoking items of the week I bought.
The question that arises is reasonable… I thought that you would not be so affected by the restrictive measures, that you had what we call "standard clientele". What happened;". Eventually the answer was in front of my eyes and behind my back, specifically in the back seats of my car which were occupied by his bags supermarket...
"People panicked when the curfew was announced and the restrictive measures were announced. He would go out to get supplies. They always remembered something. Yes, in those early days due to the panic we had an increased clientele. But now it has fallen and stabilized and it makes sense since people now go to the supermarket to get the products that for us are more profitable. To me they will come to take chocolates and soft drinks? They will get them from the supermarkets. "These have a bigger profit for us and now they 'leave' with the dropper", he tells me.
I can not help but ask Ms. Maria what happens to the sales of newspapers and magazines. Her response is heartbreaking for the industry… “The newspapers come back intact… Packed as they came. In magazines something… moves but do not imagine anything special. What we sell like crazy these days are crossword puzzles. What should people do? "Somehow he has to spend his hours", he informs me.
Our discussion comes to an end as I notice that at a distance of two meters another customer is waiting to be served and I monopolized Mrs. Maria. With a smile she gives me the bag with the things and of course her hands do not lack the necessary gloves.
"You take your measures, I see…" I tell her. "As much as I can, yes. That's why I put the glass. If the kiosks go down, what will happen? They will desert everything. We owe it to ourselves to stay open as long as we can. I read somewhere that we kiosks are a kind of psychotherapy. And he is right. People come, shop, say a word and forget about this whole situation… "he tells me, smiling playfully and makes me smile too.