Well, I got quiet a shock when I went into the OTE office to pay my phone bill. It was all high tech modern! I wish I had before and after photos.

Before this month the office hadn't changed since I arrived in 2,000. It still had three obsolete phone booths in the corner--the type where you tell the operator you want to make an international call, she then schedules it and rings you back when the connection is made. (Of course at my young age I had only read about such things.) Anyway the room also had a big counter with a payment booth at one end and a receptionist desk at the other. There were two desks in other corners and a manager's office in the back. Scattered elsewhere were a couple display cabinets, a table with brochures and various stacks of other boxes and debris.

Today there is a cluster of 3 open work stations, each with a plastic, flex-pipe for wiring and who-knows-what. In one back corner there are two modern, plastic booths for cashiers. Along three walls are mobile phone displays and other packaged accessories. Thats it: all open, airy and light. How depressing!

Our beautiful island is losing its charm and quaintness, bit by bit. Of course when we first arrived we heard the same thing from those who had been here for five or more years before us. We had really liked the book by Fionnuala Brennan about the good old days. We now know Fionnuala and some of the characters from her book; they still love the new Paros.

Also the telephone company modernization was put into perspective by the Michael Palin book that I just finished, Hemingway's Chair. Its story line centers around a British Post Office and its similar modernization. The idea being, I think, that customer service representatives no longer have the professionalism and respect that comes with their own desk. They are just cogs in a mechanical system. Next they will be replaced with touch screen computers that will answer all your questions--as long they can be answered by response A, B or C.


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