Thursday, June 13, 2013

broken…


This morning I woke up to a broken refrigerator. No warning signs of trouble. It just suddenly stopped. I watched the numbers on the temperature indicator rise, one degree at a time. First the top half of the fridge stopped but the freezer bravely trudges on, alone but still working, the temperature slightly increased. It is not completely dead, the food has not completely spoiled, and somehow the fridge is managing to stubbornly cling to life.

And so I sat and waited for salvation to arrive in the form of a General Electric repairman. “We are in your area,” he tried to sound reassuring, “we’ll be there in two hours, the latest.” Help was on the way.

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As I waited, I watched ‘Occupied’ ERT – which is still holding on, broadcasting live from their station – another (private) TV channel is transmitting ERT’s program at the moment, and some websites host ERT’s live-streaming video as well.

Two days ago, on the afternoon of Tuesday, June 11 – the Greek government announced it was shutting down the national, state-run TV & Radio broadcaster ERT and laying off over 2,600 employees, in an effort to reduce costs. The closure was effective (almost) immediately.

That very night, around 11pm, as thousands of people gathered outside ERT headquarters, inside ERT journalists were broadcasting live… and suddenly our TV screens just went black. The government literally pulled the plug, on-air. Reporters were cut off in mid-sentence. Riot police had to accompany technicians to the location of the transmitters so they could be shut down. As all this was happening, all of the other, privately-owned TV channels continued to broadcast their regularly scheduled programs. No breaking news bulletins, no mention of anything out of the ordinary.

Since Tuesday night, the other Greek TV channels have been broadcasting a continuous stream of re-runs and infomercials. No news broadcasts. And today, a general strike has been called in protest to ERT’s closure – all journalists are on strike, public transport is disrupted, as well as international and domestic flights, and public services. In fact, today I attempted to log on to the Finance Ministry’s website for filing taxes electronically. A message at the top of the screen informed me that “some electronic services may be disrupted from 4-9pm”… It was only 12 noon but I was unable to log on and get to my electronic tax form. Even the website was on strike.

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At least the repairman showed up as he said he would, on time. The verdict on the refrigerator: it’s broken. It needs new parts. The freezer may hold up until tomorrow but it will inevitably shut down too, slowly but surely. The new parts might be available tomorrow, he might be able to come back again tomorrow afternoon to fix it.

I thanked him and went back to my broken fridge – to my drippy ice cubes and souring milk – as the freezer began to quietly wheeze and sputter. Perhaps by morning it will stop working too. Perhaps by tomorrow afternoon it will be fixed, up and running, good as new.

But for now, I am stuck. Broken and waiting. We are sick of being stuck, broken, and waiting. Everything slowing down. Everything beginning to rot and fester. Pieces of our lives diminishing bit by bit, no matter how hard we try to fix everything, no matter how long we await salvation.