Travel slowly, staying in vacation rentals (villas, farms, cottages, apartments)
Report 1043: Luggage, Lattes and Lunacy
By Palma from California, Spring 2006
Page 9 of 17: May 27: Fun at the Italian Post Office
Suspension Bridge: Monte Sospeso
I slept in until 8:15. Then I got ready to go to Bagni di Lucca. I had decided to mail home much of what was in my luggage. The weather was much colder than we expected, and so I packed up three boxes of dirty laundry, sandals, matching purses, a few gifts, some jewelry and beads and most of the clothes I had worn the first week. My packages weighed 8 kilos each (a total of 51 lbs deleted from what I had to schlep down the stairs). I know… if I had just packed less to begin with, and brought an empty bag for any purchases.
Ida and Gail dropped me off at the Italian Post office outside of town at 10:30. They were going to run a couple of errands, and come back for me. I waited in line for over an hour (I was third in line, and the woman in front of me left after 40 minutes). Apparently, many banking, paying of bills and financial transactions happen at the post office. Ida called after 20 minutes and said she’d be back to pick me up in 10 minutes. I told her I was next in line. When I got there, I asked the clerk if I needed to fill out a paper with the address (shipping form), or write the address on the box. He said no to both. I was worried about keeping Ida waiting if she came back and I hadn’t been helped yet. (Why I worried about keeping her waiting, you might wonder…? I hate being late, and being kept waiting by others, so I try never to make someone wait for me!) An hour and-a-half after arriving, there was no sign of Ida, and it was finally my turn. The man handed me 3 packing forms AND told me to write the addresses on the boxes in two places. So now I got to write my name and address 12 times as fast as I could, when I could have been doing this for the last 90 minutes in line! As I was writing, the stupid clerk was taking new customers in front of me. I was finished writing, my packages had been weighed, but I was waiting again while new customers were doing their restaurant cash deposits.
Ida called again (1 hour and 10 minutes after saying she would be there in 10 minutes) to say, “Gail and I are going to finish shopping, and then we’ll come and get you.” I’m hoping for some empathy here, as I was close to losing it. I sarcastically but calmly said, “Why don’t you stay and have lunch first too!” Ida yelled, “You don’t have to be so rude!” and hung up on me. I usually have a rather high frustration tolerance, but at this point, the clerk let another Italian official butt in line, and I had had it. I teach anger management skills, and work with men who have been convicted of domestic violence. I remembered to breathe and waited for the clerk to take the last person’s deposit. The customer left, and just the clerk and I remained in the post office. It was now 12:15 and they closed at 12:30 on Saturdays.
In the calmest voice I could muster up, I gave the longest speech of my life in Italian. I don’t know where the words were coming from, but I managed at least eight complete sentences with only a couple of minor tense errors and said the equivalent of: “Sir, this is not fair. I waited for more than an hour and a half. I asked you when I arrived if I needed to write the addresses on the packages or on papers. You said no. When I got to the window, you told me I have to write on the boxes and on the papers. Then you take other people before me when it is my turn. All of the Italians were helped before me. Because I am American, and don’t speak Italian well, you help me last. That is not right.” The clerk shrugged and said I owed 271 Euro. I handed him my credit card. He swiped the machine and said it doesn’t work. I told him to “Push the buttons with his hands” (do it manually). He shrugged again, and I threw 300 Euro on the counter. He gave me change and receipts. I walked out, but it was anticlimactic because I had nowhere to go until Ida came back for me. I had a cigarette and she pulled up.
We drove quietly back to Bagni while Gail was still shopping. Ida said we could meet for lunch at 1. I walked directly into the jewelry store next to the restaurant and bought myself a lovely white and yellow gold ring. It will be helpful to readers to familiarize yourself with this new term defined here which will be used again throughout the remainder of this report: “stress jewelry.”
I then walked to the caffé and ordered a double latte in a huge beer stein. I even had time to buy a thank you card and visit the man in the enoteca to help me write a note in Italian to Agnese who is taking us to Sunday lunch tomorrow. We ate at Pizzaria Borghese, and I had penne in formaggio sauce and roast beef.
After lunch we drove to Monte Sospeso to see a suspension bridge, then on to San Marcello di Pistoia. I found an Internet caffé, and got a Slowtrav fix. I sat at a table with a group of high school students who told me about doing their lessons in English to prepare them for jobs. Ida bought several pots of flowers to hang from her balcony, then took the rental car to a carwash. We got home around 6:30 and had some time to read. Ida and Gail went for a walk up the steep cobblestone street in the dark. I read, made Agnese a bracelet as a hostess gift for tomorrow, had a scoop of gelato, talked to Brad and went to bed at 10:30.
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