Greek-American Stories: Neighborly Neighbors

Yiannis came into Dixon’s that Sunday afternoon looking as if he was wearing tight shoes. He set his coffee cup down and stared up at George. “You are the most irritating human being on this planet, George!” he snarled. George looked up at him, saying nothing.

Dimos intervened. “What’s got you riled up, Yiannis?” “What? George! That’s what. Yesterday, he brought the paint brushes I ordered and Areti took them in. Then, she heard him arguing with my neighbor next door. She didn’t understand what was being said but she heard my neighbor slam his door shut.”

George shrugged, sipped his coffee and continued his silence. Yiannis went on.” I live there. You don’t! All you had to do was bring those brushes and go away. That’s all you had to do. But, no! You had to say something when he’s none of your business.” He stirred his coffee causing a small squall. Kipreos, always the peace maker, pushed the donut dish closer to Yiannis, hoping to pacify his temper. But, Yiannis ignored them. John waved his hands. “Hey! We’re friends! Don’t let a little argument get you down, Yiannis. It was, probably, something trivial, anyway.”

Turning to George, he asked, “Right, George?” George gave half a grin and responded, “Right, John. I should have just let the guy say his piece and left the building.” “That’s right!” insisted Yiannis. “Too late now! Now, I have to make the peace. And, he’s not an easy guy to make peace with. He’s always mad at me for borrowing his Sunday morning newspaper. I read it and fold it back the way I found it and put it back in front of his door – in good order, too.” Setting down his cup, he added, “But, that’s between him and me.”

Kipreos said, “Now, maybe, you’ll have to buy your own newspaper from now on.” Thinking of the expense, Yiannis said, “HUH! Yeah!”

“Well, it all sounds like something that’ll solve itself, I believe. So, let’s forget about it and enjoy this nice Sunday afternoon,” Dimos suggested. Then, he turned toward George. “I hope it wasn’t a big deal, George. I mean, you don’t really know the man, do you?” George shook his head, “No, I don’t. Hey! I was just leaving when he opened the door and started saying things I didn’t like.”

“That’s exactly like you!” Yiannis snapped. “When you don’t like something you gotta give your own opinions. Well, everybody has an opinion about something. They’re entitled to it, too. You just have to learn to accept that as a fact, George.” A little grin curved George’s mouth as he nodded in agreement. “You’re absolutely right, Yiannis. He had a right to his opinion. And, I had a right to mine.”

Yiannis continued. “And, maybe – just maybe, his opinion may be the more rational one.” George agreed, sipping his coffee.

John, turning his head towards George, asked, “Just for curiosity’s sake, George, why did he open the door in the first place?” Waving out his hands, George replied, “It’s like Yiannis said. He wanted to give his opinion about something. I didn’t like his opinion.”

“There! What did I tell you! He gives his opinion and George doesn’t like it. His opinion was more acceptable, I suppose.” Shrugging his shoulders, George said, “Maybe!” Dimos, becoming more curious, offered, “we’re your friends, George. Can you tell us what he said that made you have a shouting match with him – a total stranger? Maybe, we can neutralize the situation in some way.” Settling back in his seat, George thought about the argument and then made up his mind to expose what the argument was all about. Yiannis, glaring up at him, said, “go on! We’re listening!” Taking in a breath, George, reaching for a donut, began. “He said that Yiannis has got to be the cheapest, most irritating man he’d ever had the misfortune to be neighbors with.”


Just before she was stabbed to death outside an Athens police station by her ex-boyfriend after being refused help inside, Kyriaki Griva was told by an operator on a police hotline after asking for a patrol car escort home, “Lady, police cars aren’t taxis.

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