Friday, January 05, 2007

Vilnius Vignettes

About to depart for a longer spell I am trying to sort out/fix up many things. So I may have been one of the first to put in my tax return for last year (oh, Miss Goody Two-shoes!) despite finding myself in a queue almost out to the street in the tax office. At the same time I am still debating the taxes of 2005 with my tax inspector - just had to get all my contracts translated for her into Lithuanian, at a not in-considerable cost, but what can you do. I need to say, though, that the lady I deal with is one of the most charming public sector employees I have ever met, on either side of the former Iron Curtain. It is a pleasure dealing with her - she is helpful, apologizes profusely if the phone rings while you are talking to her, and she is very patient even when dealing across a language barrier. She could be a great example for many of her colleagues. I wonder if she enjoys her job. (Though some sadistic public sector employees probably also enjoy their jobs).

Another nice thing about the new tax offices are the glass walls that the offices have on the corridor side. This literally adds transparency, and it would make it very difficult to try to bribe anyone. On the other hand, the employees cannot pick their noses in privacy either.

Coming back across the river I spotted the advertising hoarding high above the opera house. It's like a giant TV screen and advertises a range of goods and services, including opera performances, cars, and sometimes it gives the weather forecast. One can imagine it being linked to someone's computer screen. Today it is advertising Smecta, an anti-diarrhoeal medication. Wonderful.