"Bollybutton, you can't just expect people to be nice to you."
This was my mother's advice when I called her days after moving to London, complaining about how miserable and mean everyone was. I thought about it again this morning when I had to go into a hospital to get some test run. Just routine stuff, it's just that I spent nearly 2 years looking for a good doctor, and when I found him he sadly turned out to work in a private hospital.
Doctors are ten a penny in Athens, but a good one, one who listens to you and has a good reputation is really difficult to find. Most doctors here (maybe like anywhere) are of the opinion of "I know best and screw you if you disagree".
I won't name names, but when I got there, it felt like walking into a lunatic asylum. Chaos! Noise! Lights! I felt like a little ant lost in a big jungle and then it occurred to me - I've never been to a hospital on my own before, and never in my life to have tests run. A doctor father and nurse mother has that affect - my father operated on me when I had my appendix taken out and they took me home the same day, on account of having a mini hospital at home anyway. This was when we were still living in the Home Country - it's totally not okay to do that in the UK.
The receptionists were total bitches and told me the exact opposite of what I'd been told on the phone by another receptionist. After bungling around for a bit, I found the department I needed, and the receptionists there were total bitches too. They acted like they were doing me the biggest favour in the world to book me a slot with the microbiologists.
All in all, it was pretty horrible. "You're not a customer yet" Mr Zeus said. "When you're a customer they'll be fawning all over you." Which is true. Private hospitals are huge business in Greece and the way you are treated depends pretty much on how big and expensive your procedure is.
Bollybutton, I said to myself, you're not a baby any more. Time to take responsibility for yourself. Sure, it's nice to be at the point where my Greek is good enough to make appointments and discuss (up to a point) procedures and terminology, but beyond that, going into a private hospital confirmed everything I'd always feared about them. I was super grateful to come home and brood over a cup of tea. Phew!