Dimitris Prisimintzis and Sophia Trezou, shop owners in a working-class area of central Athens, said Monday that they are both anti-euro. (Michael Birnbaum/The Washington Post)

Ten packages of pasta, a bag of flour, canned white beans and rice.

On a Monday of uncertainties for Greece, which may soon bid farewell to the euro, groceries were what Stalo Mestana decided she could count on. She loaded up her shopping cart and paid with a credit card — because banks are shuttered and cash just turned into a precious commodity.

Not too long ago, Mestana, a dietician, could argue with her husband about whether a California red wine was better than a nice French burgundy. But after five years of grueling austerity, her husband is out of work, Greece’s middle class is hollowed out, and the world is bracing for a Sunday referendum that European Union leaders say will decide whether Greece discards the euro currency.

“This is an invisible war,” Mestana said. “It’s like an emotional, economic war.”

Greece may default on its debts if a deal for more funding in exchange for fiscal reforms is not made. Here’s why that matters. (Jorge Ribas/The Washington Post)

This is Greece this week: Banks are closed, but anxious retirees are gathering in front of the steel shutters, hoping against odds to tap their pensions. Parents are scrounging for pocket change to buy formula for their babies. Gas stations are running out of fuel, and supermarkets say their customers are lining up to buy the same items they would ahead of a hurricane.

Only this hurricane is a man-made force, a painful product of five years of economic austerity pushed by Europe and the final, angry rebellion by Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, who over the weekend said he would put the terms of Greece’s bailout in front of voters Sunday. He urged them to vote no, a step that European leaders said Monday would be tantamount to choosing to abandon the euro as Greece’s currency.

The upheaval threatens global markets and Europe’s entire post-World War II project of binding nations together so tightly that they would never again fight with one another. Opinion polls show that Greeks narrowly favor making a deal with the E.U., even if it results in painful concessions. A majority support retaining the euro. But many people are having trouble making up their minds.

“To be honest, I’m not sure what is correct,” Mestana said, referring to sticking with the euro or leaving it. “Common sense says the euro, but we cannot be squeezed anymore.”

Elsewhere in Athens on Monday, there was more anger than sadness about the situation. Rumors sped through the Greek media that certain banks would open to pay pensions to retirees, many of whom don’t have ATM cards and cannot take money from machines. But the rumors were false, and the retirees showed up to locked bank branches.

“I was in the hospital last month, and I needed cash to pay the doctors,” said Georgia, 50, an unemployed secretary who was trying to withdraw money from an ATM on Monday and declined to give her last name. “We were hoping that we were on the right path, and then they called this referendum,” she said. She didn’t have much cash for the week’s essentials, she said.

Others said they had little fear of the prospect of their savings turning into massively devalued drachmas, Greece’s old currency, locked away inside banks.

“Instead of being tortured for years and years, it’s better to have a quick death,” said Stavros Maragoudakis, 38, who was standing in a long line waiting to pull money from a central Athens ATM. Greeks are limited to withdrawing 60 euros per day this week, or about $73, and lines had eased by late Monday as pent-up demand quieted. Battered by years of economic hardship, many said that even if the limit were higher, they had little more to withdraw.

“Europe doesn’t want us in the euro,” Maragoudakis said. Otherwise it would be more willing to extend softer terms to Greece, he said.

Across Athens, the feeling in Sophia Trezou’s lighting store was jubilant. On a block where construction supply shops have closed their doors one by one during the years of crisis, the business her father started decades ago is one of the few survivors. Trezou said she has prevailed over a European campaign to bring Greece to its knees.

“They call us corrupt. They call us thieves,” she said as she drank a tar-black Greek coffee in a jumbled corner of her shop, which was filled with woven rope in a kaleidoscope of colors. She said she wasn’t worried about bank closures because the years of economic turmoil have eaten away all her savings. “They can keep the banks closed. We can live,” she said. “We have oil. We have farms.”

Greece’s leftist leaders had finally brought the nation a bit of self-respect after years of kowtowing to European creditors, Trezou said.

Tsipras “is a fighter,” she said. “These beautiful young people will help Greece,” she added, referring to the prime minister, 40, and his finance minister, Yanis Varoufakis, 54, who favors leather jackets, rides to work on a motorcycle and has pushed hard against European leaders asking for more cuts.

“Every day for five years we’ve paid more taxes,” Trezou said, complaining that her money has gone into the pocketbooks of foreign creditors, not her own. Soon, she said, Greece would be freed from its European chains.

Mestana sat in the waiting room of her dietician’s office Monday as the golden Greek sun ebbed into dusk. She had no clients; someone had canceled earlier in the day, short on cash to pay for the appointment. Her husband, an executive who was laid off in November, checked LinkedIn, the job networking Web site, on a nearby computer.

The pair gently bickered about the euro; her husband is a far stronger supporter of it. Even old friends are fighting with one another about Greece’s currency fate, Mestana said.

She said she had coffee on Monday with three friends. One of them was for returning to the drachma, which would give the country more control over its finances but could cause such grinding economic pain and shortages that Greece would need humanitarian aid. The others favored the euro.

“We wound up arguing, and we’re friends,” she said. “We’ve lost our smiles.”

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