(Associated Press) A sign taped to a wall in an Athens hospital appealed for civility from patients. “The doctors on duty have been unpaid since May,” it read. “Please respect their work.”

Patients and their relatives glanced up briefly and moved on, hardened to such messages of gloom. In a country in which about 1,000 people lose their jobs each day, legions more are still employed but haven’t seen a paycheck in months. What used to be an anomaly has become commonplace, and those who have jobs that pay on time consider themselves the exception to the rule.

To the casual observer, all might appear well in Athens. Traffic still hums by, restaurants and bars are open, people sip iced coffees at sunny sidewalk cafes. But scratch the surface and you find a society in free fall, ripped apart by the most vicious financial crisis the country has seen in a half-century.

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