This past summer, my family embarked on a wonderful trip which brought us to the Acropolis in Athens. It was a bucket list day to be sure, having the chance to see in person one of civilizations earliest and most impressive monuments. The monument did not disappoint. Unfortunately, just about everything else about the day did.

As you may expect, we weren’t the only ones keen to visit the Parthenon. As luck would have it, 5 cruise ships, each with about 3000 people on board, were in port on this day. Apparently, we weren’t the only ones with a bucket list! Not to worry, one would think that a country with an unemployment rate approaching 30% would not have difficulty finding the manpower to ensure an orderly entrance into the Acropolis site. Nope. Rather, we were herded like sheep trying desperately to squeeze through the lone farmers gate. The shepherd on this particular day, consisted of one disinterested man scanning tickets to enter the grounds! There were without doubt more buskers than staff. Not surprisingly, nature was on full and sorry display. Grown men were arguing (for reasons not clearly articulated) that the line should not apply to them, and so bullied their way to the front. Others, apparently lacking the peripheral vision required to recognize the formation of a line, walked past those waiting patiently long before their arrival. Still others went to the exit gate and entered there, only to form a larger swell of humanity within the gated entrance. None of this changed the pace by which the Acropolis was ascended. It only changed the make up of those who reached the peak earliest. The rudest and most aggressive were the first to reach the symbol of early human civilization. Ironic. Their reward was akin to singing Christmas carols in front of a tree you stole from your neighbour- the hymn may be the same but surely the music could not have been as sweet.Sadly, some of the worst offenders pulled their children in tow. The lesson intended for their kids on this day, would surely have been tempered by dad’s behaviour- unless of course dad intended to teach his kids a complete disregard for the tenet of ‘first come, first served’. Nothing shouts more loudly ‘I’m more important than you’ than butting in line.Happily however, I can report that the vast majority of people displayed relatively good manners given the chaotic circumstances. Indeed, the day was not without humour, if one is able to laugh at the thin veneer of civilization. Those who waited patiently for their turn, can take solace in knowing that their time with the self absorbed was brief. The guilty few on the other hand, must live with themselves on a daily basis. It cannot be good company.

Thanks for reading,

Jeff Neumann