I have always said that the key to a successful life in Hydra is to throw away the rule book, because everything in this part of the world is more or less the opposite to the norm. Keys will turn the wrong way, neh means yes, a nod means no, and roosters may crow at sunset, but none of these contradictions is more striking than Theo’s advice to us during the first week of September.
Theo reassures patrons that despite bruised bum,
he’s still serving the “same old rubbish.”
“If crossing a road in Athens, always do it when the little red man is lit,” he said after limping over to our table at his restaurant, the Pirofani. “If you cross when it’s safe, when traffic has stopped and the little green man is illuminated, you have more chance of being run over.”
“The reason is that when you cross on red without the ‘safety’ light, you are aware and you look around, left and right, and dodge traffic. When walking across the street on green, particularly when traffic has stopped, one doesn’t pay as much attention and one’s guard is down—and that is when disaster can strike.”
Not only is it out of the ordinary for someone who lives on a vehicleless Greek island to be hit by a car on the odd occasion when they do visit the Big Olive, being that the odds are much reduced and the chance of incidence minimal, but to be told to break the rules seemed odd.
Theo had popped into Piraeus to purchase some supplies for the restaurant and was crossing the main road on his way to catch the return hydrofoil when he got smacked in the middle of a pedestrian crossing while crossing on a green light.
“Normally I’m in a rush, so I nip across roads without using the pedestrian crossings, ducking in and out, and I’m alert,” he added. “But this time I wasn’t in any particular hurry, and I was carrying bags of supplies—luckily.”
Theo waited patiently for the green man, then for a car stop, and had finally proceeded to cross when suddenly he found himself flying through the air. A truck had smashed into the back of the stopped car, which in turn shot forward and hit Theo.
“It was most fortunate that I was carrying a big bag of soft sponges and cleaning materials that cushioned the blow. Otherwise it would have been metal against bone and Lord knows what I would have suffered,” he philosophized. “Somebody up there was looking after me—goodness knows why!”
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