In my last post, “Greeks – One Big Happy Family,” I alluded to the Greek Discount otherwise known as the “GD”. For those of you who have never received the GD – krima! it’s where the Greek owner of a business finds out you’re Greek and wham! You are given a discount just because you have some Greek ema in you. This happens more if the area you are visiting is devoid of Greeks.
Here’s an example of the GD. You go out of state for business and go to grab a quick lunch at a small café. When reading the menu, your “Greek Antenna” suddenly buzzes, and you see that they have a Greek Salad. Ok, but wait. Ah… they have stuff grape leaves too! And even better, in the beverage section you see, Frape! They must be Greek.
You ask the waitress, and she replies yes, and you eye the manager. He has a large mustache, sleeves rolled up, big smile, all the right attributes of a Greek restaurant owner. And you find out his name is Gus, and his wife is Maria (some of you are now smiling because you know what that means). You say Yia’sou and then ask where in Greece they are from and you tell them where you’re from. A few Greek words are exchanged, some small conversation, handshakes, and pats on the back. Now you go to pay, and there’s a line at the cashier. It’s your turn to pay and your bill is $12.95. You hand Maria $15.00 – a $10.00 bill and a $5.00 bill. She smiles and stealthily gives you back the $5.00 bill like she was giving you a CIA secret message, so no one else in line sees. Gus winks. The GD was given. No words exchanged but just a slight nod of acknowledgment… that fast.
The GD doesn’t always have to be monetary. You go to a large chain store to complain about a product you bought. The young lady behind the counter, who is there to assist you, is more interested in the moronic postings on Facebook. She’s no help. She just spews out the corporate responses until you’re too frustrated and leave. But you refuse to give up, so you ask for her supervisor.
The supervisor appears. Oh oh, you think. This lady looks tough. You say, “Hi, I’m Harry Whatchamalides, and I’m having problems with this product and getting no help.” Her face erupts into a giant smile, and she replies, “Well hello, I’m Eleni Smith, and I’m the manager. You Greek?” she asks. You nod yes. “Me too. My maiden name is Whateveropoulos, What church do you go to?” You reply, “St. George.” She responds, “I go to St. Sophia.” That’s the new one across town. That’s why you don’t know her. Your Greek Antenna goes up; now you’re smiling because a sudden bond has been made between two Greeks. You explain the situation. She replies with those magic words, “Let me see what I can do,” and leaves.
In a few minutes, she returns, and the entire problem is resolved… AND, she gives you a gift card for your trouble. The manager walks away and the Facebook girl is just staring in astonishment. “How did you do that?” she asks. You shrug your shoulders and walk away, but inside you say, “The GD.”
Years before the self-inflicted collapse of the Greek economy, I visited the land of my ancestors and went to rent a car in search of them – I think they were all at the kafenion. I spoke English to the customer service person and she was looking on her manifest of what cars were available and telling me the rental fees, this was before wide use of computers, and after I chose one, I gave her my Passport and “International License” (remind me to tell you about those worthless things). She looked up and said, “Ah, Kyrie Karapalidie, ise Ellinas?” which I replied, “Greek-American.” “I’m sorry, Mr. Karapalides,” she added in English, “you don’t look Greek.” She then handed me the rental contract. The rental car fee was discounted. It was a GD moment! By the way, Greek taxi cab drivers never honor the GD. I think they implemented a reverse GD – charge you higher than the normal fee.
Sadly, however, it seems, that the GD is slowly going the way of the Greek drachma – disappearing. In that previous post, I mentioned the Greek owner of the cowboy store on Bourbon Street in New Orleans, but that was in 1980. I also mentioned the Greek owner of the Mad Greek Restaurant in Hawaii, that was in 1989. The problem now is that there are too many Greeks around the world and it’s not unusual to run into someone who is Greek or of Greek descent. Ah… the good old days.
Today in Greece, forget about it, as my friends in North Jersey say. You pay 8 euros for a Frape whether your Greek, Armenian, Korean, or from the City of Palu! The Greek Parliament probably declared, “No GD for anyone.” Or maybe it was the Germans. Maybe the Germans should give the Greeks the GD – a German Discount. Probably not. The Germans are too busy trying to figure out how the Greeks are going to pay back their loans. Now that is a huge GD.
For us outside of Greece, the GD is still around and ready to be given at the drop of a loukoumada. You’ll know when it’s around when your Greek Antenna starts buzzing. So relax, enjoy and don’t forget, to receive a GD, you must also be ready to give a GD.
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