WATERTOWN, Mass. Spiro “Patsy” Theokratis has been the owner-operator of a railroad car diner in this near suburb of Boston for over forty years, but he can still remember the first dollar he made the day he opened his doors. “Guy come in for a cup of coffee on his way to work at a rebuilt engine shop,” he recalls with a wistful smile. “I gave him 90 cents change, and he left a nickel tip.”
That dollar still adorns the walls here as Theokratis followed the practice of other Greek diner owners, who traditionally keep the first dollar they make as a memento of their humble beginnings. “I never been tempted to take it down,” he says, “not even when some high-roller comes in from Bingo Night at the Elks Lodge with a fifty.”
“Please, take it. It’s more for decoration.”
But Theokratis is reconsidering his long-standing sentimental attachment as he watches economic turmoil in his native Greece spiral out of control. “I use for decoration,” he says, his brow furrowed like a new-plowed field. “My country, she can use to break the grip of ‘Fat Julie Andrews’ Andrea Merkel and her Eurobanker love poodles.”
“Really? You think I look like Julie Andrews? Thanks!”
And so Theokratis will join other Greek diner owners across America who have decided to come to the aid of their countrymen and send their first dollars to their homeland in order to stem the tide of insolvency that threatens to drown Greece in a sea of debt and a tsunami of overwrought nautical metaphors.
“We got to stick together,” says Constantinos “Mickey” Philopopolous, owner of the Broadway Diner eight blocks away. “We all in this together, with our framed dollar bills and our goofy, apparently randomly-generated nicknames.”
Boyfriend taking picture of girlfriend’s sleep-induced eye crud at diner.
A Greek diner is a dining establishment, usually housed in a re-tooled railroad car. It serves typical Greek dishes such as gyros, Greek salads and souvlaki, and American “greasy spoon” fare such as cheeseburger cheeseburger Pepsi Pepsi offered by the Olympia Diner.
Olympia Diner, Pete Dionasopolis, proprietor
Economists say that while the voluntary initiative is laudable, it may be too little and too late to prevent Greece from withdrawing from the so-called “Eurozone,” where productivity is depressed by multiple “hello” and “goodbye” kisses.
“Okay, enough. I’ve got to go be surly to American tourists.”
“Like most fiscal contagions, this one can be understood with the aid of a stupid joke,” says World Bank Vice President Robert Schoerzweiler. “A Greek, a Spaniard and an Italian walk into a bar and drink all night–who pays the tab?” he asks. When this reporter can’t come up with an answer, he supplies one: “The German.”