"I have no hope, not for myself, not for my children, and I am only 50"

There is a lot for Greeks to swallow. Beyond the public-sector wage cuts, in recent months the government has also imposed a “solidarity tax” ranging from 1 to 4 percent of income on all workers and an additional tax on self-employed workers, who make up the bulk of the economy. It has also raised its value-added tax on many goods and services, including food, to 23 percent from 13 percent…

Many Greeks fear a vicious circle: a death spiral of more austerity measures, further economic contraction and correspondingly lower tax revenues, making it that much harder to make a dent in the debt, pushing the country toward default in spite of the austerity. Unions have called general strikes for Oct. 5 and Oct. 19, and tensions are building…

Yet even as the country bleeds, it is not meeting the deficit-reduction targets set as terms for its bailout. According to data released by the Finance Ministry on Thursday, net revenues were $4.7 billion off target and expenses $1.35 billion higher than projected in the first seven months of 2011.

Back in her living room, Ms. Firigou said she had not seen it coming. “No one warned us,” she said. “I have no hope, not for myself, not for my children, and I am only 50.” But she said some things still make her laugh. “I can’t get it into my mind that my life is such a mess,” she said. “It’s a joke.”