The Cretan greengrocer weighed my items, bagged them, and now he was tapping sums on a calculator.
“Nine euro,” he said.
Opening my wallet, I saw that the smallest bill inside was a fifty. In small shops like this it’s considered discourteous to use large bills, as you will drain the till of change.
“Would you be upset with me if I told you I only had a fifty?”
He looked at me over the rim of his glasses. “Yes. Yes, I would.”
“I only have a fifty,” I said and held the bill out.
He plucked it from my fingers. He rummaged through the till and in the metal box he kept unlocked in a drawer underneath the till. He checked all four of his pants’ pockets. But apparently failed to turn up enough change.
“Here,” he said, placing a one-euro coin in my hand, followed by the fifty euro bill I’d given him.
“What’s this?” I asked.
“Next time,” he said, “you’ll give me ten euro.”
“I could just owe you the nine…”
“No, it’s good like this. Ten is a better number.”
I thanked him and left the shop with a bag of produce I hadn’t paid for and an extra euro I hadn’t asked for.
They say Greeks are no good with money. That’s not true. They’re just playing a different game altogether.