A True Story by Dorian
My American license was one
month from expiration so of course, the
international license was, too. Dilemma: Go back
to the states for renewal or get a Greek (EC)
license. I decided, mistakenly, that the latter
would be more practical. My dear friends... the
time has come for all devoted employees of AAA to
take arms and fight their devil counterpart in
this poor god-forsaken country and to finally
abolish the laws pertaining to licenses. Their
counterpart is called E.L.P.A.
What do I have to do to get a
You must obtain the
Official translation of the
American license at the foreign
Greek I.D. or residence
Bill of health from an
Verification that the
license is real from E.L.P.A.
Where do I start?
Anywhere. Why are you so
AT THE EYE DOCTOR
(The temperature is 101 degrees
in the middle of August. The windows are
Look at the paper.
It's too small and it's blowing
all over the place. Can you shut the window? ( The
paper blew off the tack on the old yellow wall. He
puts it back.)
Are you crazy? We'll die of
heat if we close the window.
But it's blowing left and
right. I can't read it.
The third line.
I can't read any line. ( It
blows off the wall again. He re-tacks it.)
Third line. (He thinks again.)
No. The first. It doesn't move so much.
E,F,L,E,E,K,M,K. (It was
actually E,E,A,E,E,B,B,I, but I passed.) The
Doctor wrote out the paper and I made my way to
Take your shirt off for the
I've been smoking for years,
will it affect my driving? (World War Two x-ray
machine making a buzzing sound.)
OK. In five minutes you get
(Five minutes go by)
Here's your x-ray and your
Well, what did it show?
What did what show?
The x-ray of course. Am I
How am I supposed to know? For
what the government gives me for licenses what am
I supposed to do, study x-rays? If you want a
check-up make an appointment. Don't be so
Now with two papers in hand,
the naive American makes his way to the
Yes, I know, an official
himself) Wow. What efficiency. He knows!
First floor for stamps.
Eighteenth floor for application. Third floor for
signature. Ninth floor for regional taxes. Then
back to me.
Where's the elevator?
There isn't any.
(Advice for future venturers
into Greek reality: Know your name! It's very
I got my translation which
read: Dorian Kokas. Legal US drivers license.
(Watch out kids; "Dorian" Kokas. That is, or was
my name.) The problem was that my Greek I.D.,
(which took three years to get after proving to
the authorities that the bones in some grave in
the Greek province of Pyrgos were really those of
my grandfathers) only mentions my Christian name,
the name I was baptized with which is Theodore. So
my official translation is "Dorian" and my I.D. is
"Theodore". But wait. The fun isn't over yet. Now
I had to go to E.L.P.A. to verify the license. It
took three hours and they gave me the paper. I
didn't look at it because of my anxiety to reach
the ministry of transportation with my photographs
to get my license.
A DAY AT THE MINISTRY OF
O.K. Yes, but there is a
What now? (I got used to
Your I.D. says "Theodore", your
translation says "Dorian" and your verification
from E.L.P.A. says "Miss Dorina".
That's right. Which one are
With which name is it easier to
process the application? Which of the three
branches of government wields more power.
Well. E.L.P.A. of
Then I'm Miss Dorina
That's what it seems but how
are you going to explain your appearance to the
director who has to approve the
Give me one hour and I'll find
a dress, wig pantyhose and be right back.
(chuckling) The only thing you can do is get a
court order which states that Dorian, Theodore and
Miss Dorina are the same person. If you are Dorina
in E.L.P.A.'s computer then you'll never be able
to change it. Not in Greece.
(Kafka, I thought.) I went to
my lawyer who told me I needed two witnesses to go
to court and testify that Dorian, Theodore and
Dorina are one and the same. None of my friends
were in Athens on the twentieth of August. The
lawyer advised me to find any stranger (preferably
a drunk) on the street and give him two thousand
Drs to appear for one minute in court and say they
know me. But as how? Dorina? Dorian? Theodore?
Well, Theodore puts me in the Greek mentality
associated with Easter: smelly cheese, sweat,
roast lamb, bouzoukia and girls with short skirts
and high heels. Dorian on the other hand brings up
images of the U.S.; Universities, McDonalds, girls
with bluejeans who don't smoke, music friends and
memories. Then again, Dorina tantalizes my brain
about how a woman must feel. Why not change sides
now and spend the rest of my life being chased
rather then chasing. After all, men do most of the
physical labor in and out of bed. No, I wasn't
that daring. I said to the two young punks that
they know me as "Theodore", thinking that this was
the most "legal" name. I dragged them to court to
the tune of two thousand Drs apiece and they
testified under oath that they had known me for
ten years. I got my paper.
The next morning I gave my
paper to the ministry of Transportation and they
told me that my license would be processed in one
month with the name of "Theodore Kokas".
One month later I went back to
finally get the damn license. It read:
Kokas. I guess you
could call it a compromise.