Monday, February 20, 2012

At last...

So I had to mail some letters today.  I figured while I was going to the post office I might as well pay some of the random bills that had been collecting in my drawer.  I try to pay all by bills on time but then there are these random bills that come from the italian national collection agency.  They have long, legalese letters attached to them that I'm sure explain to me what they are for, should I be able to understand them, that is.  I usually just go ahead and pay them without knowing what they are.  The way I figure it is, in a bureaucracy like italy,  there have got to be a few fees and tariffs that I regularly miss, so I pay the bills assuming that these are them.  If they aren't, well, then I'm just doing my bit to help the italian government out of its little financial bind.

So I arrive at the Post Office.  Piss.  The grouchiest, most unfriendly, unhelpful public employee ever is sitting at the only open register servicing the 10 person deep waiting line.  Whilst doing my obligatory 30 minute wait to get to the front, I organize all my bills so I'm ready when Mr. Congeniality calls my turn. I'm actually just kidding myself because for sure I will have done or do something wrong that will make Smiles here pissed off at me and start yelling at me.  Happens every time.

Sure enough.  

I gave Giggles the  bills to be paid and he started processing them.  While he was doing that I got out my debit card with which I planned on paying. 
"You're paying with bancomat?!"
"Yeah.  It's a lot of money, I'm not carrying that kind of cash."
"humph humph humph.  You gotta tell me that FIRST, beFORE I start processing..." blah blah blah he went on.  I used to get all flustered and upset when he would yell at me.  Now I just stand there and wait for him to finish and then redo everything from the beginning to make up for my fuck up. 

This time he wanted me to participate.
"weoirn dlf ciowein s  coiwenf   oweirfn s or should I cancel the transactions?"
"I'm sorry.  I didn't really understand.  could you repeat the question please?" We of course always speak entirely in italian with each other.  I suspect my foreign-ness and lack of command of his language are at least part if not the entire source of his attitude toward me.
"woien doaiod dverfniad  kandoadh  or should I cancel the transactions?"
"um, well, since I didn't understand option number one, I'll go with the second one."
"OR YOU GO TO TAKE THE MONEY FROM THE MACHINE FOR TO PAY ME or I cancel the transaction." He said completely in english.
I smiled and grabbed my purse.
"I wait" he said.

For some strange and I'm sure really secure reason I have a limit on the amount of money I can charge to my debit card in one day.  I knew this to be true for cash withdrawals from my international cards but had no idea that my italian bank applies the same rule to regular payments within the borders of their own country.  Kind of interesting that it took me 8 years to find that out but anyway, that's the way it is.  So 3 debit cards and one credit card later I was able to get enough money from the machine to pay my bills.  Back to the post office and my waiting pal.

Chuckles let me skip to the front of the line where I produced a wad of crisp banknotes.  While he was counting them I said, in english, "you speak english very well."  And happened. Just like that.  Dude stopped counting, looked up at me and said, "not really" with a huge smile on his face. A freakin smile.

We concluded our business and as I was leaving he said, "Good morning." and smiled again.

Friends, 8 years I've waited for that guy to crack.  And probably 8 years that he's waited for me to leave italy.  Or maybe he was just trying to find the courage to practice his english and sure enough my idiocy finally gave him the chance.  What a good morning.


  1. Anonymous5:53 PM

    No one tells stories as well as you, dear Lynn. Interesting way to make a new friend ! Maybe now you'll even find out what those bills are for ?

  2. Brenduncan5:55 PM

    Didn't mean to be anonymous.
    Love, Brenda