I interrupt my story about moving to Italy to apply for dual Italian citizenship to bring you this breaking news: appointments don’t exist here.
One thing we’ve noticed is that the people here don’t pay attention to appointments. I mean, they’ll make them. But to paraphrase Jerry Seinfeld, they don’t ‘keep‘ them. The first time someone made an appointment to come to our house, we waited…and waited…and finally, an hour and a half later, I called this person and asked, ‘aren’t you coming over?”
She was surprised and said ‘well, no, I can’t come.’ No reason given. No apology. Just no I’m not coming. We thought it was so rude. And then it happened the next time we had an appointment, too. The person just didn’t show. We called and no, I’m not coming. Hmmm, we thought we were spotting a trend.
The next time a serviceman was working on our broken front door lock, he said to me, ‘I have to get a longer screw; I’ll be right back‘. “Right back” to him was five days later! I kid you not.
Anyhoo, since we’ve been here, we’ve been stood up at least 5 times so now, we just don’t bother making an appointment at all, especially after my last fiasco with a hairdresser. I don’t think the word ‘appointment’ is in the Italian dictionary. Must be a foreign concept.
My hairdresser fiasco? Last week I desperately needed a haircut, so during ask for an appointment a couple of days hence.
She poked her head out of the salon (it was locked, which I thought odd since it was 10 o’clock in the morning) and said to me, ‘no appointment, just stop in’.
So, a couple of days later, I called the salon to make sure it was open–it was a Tuesday morning, so I wasn’t taking any chances that it was a holiday I didn’t know about–and the same gal whose voice I recognized, said ‘yes, we’re open.’
I high-tailed over there to find the door locked! I mean, it wasn’t 7 min later, and it was 10:20 in the morning. The same gal poked her head out of the door she had cracked open a few inches and asked me what I wanted.
I said, I called a few minutes ago about coming for a haircut. She said…this same gal who said no appointments and who’d told me on the phone 7 min prior that she was open and not a peep about being too busy–“come back at 4pm”. Grrrr. No, I did not.
Must find a hairdresser who doesn’t lock the door in the middle of the morning and who makes and keeps appointments. That kind of thing drives me crazy.
Then there are the phone hang-ups. The first few times I thought it was me and my lousy Italian not understanding they were saying goodbye. But now I really think it’s them. Here’s what happens. Before I call a business, I have my script ready and translated into Italian. My pronunciation is not so bad, so I’m usually understood when I read my Italian script.
But shortly after that is where things start to go swimmingly wrong. The business person on the other end of the phone may ask me something in rapid-fire Italian. If they speak slowly, I can usually get the gist and respond.
But the last six times, when I’ve asked the person to repeat more slowly, they repeat it just as fast but lots louder. And if I ask again to repeat more slowly, I am on the receiving end of a megaphone, amplifying a voice that is speaking faster Italian and now hitting number 11 on the volume dial. Shortly after that point is where I hear the telltale click. Once again, I’ve been hung up on.
This just happened again this morning. We saw a sign in town that advertised car rentals. We had the crazy idea of renting a car and touring about (using trains and buses gets old, especially when your destination requires innumerable connections).
I called the phone number on the sign that said ‘rent a car from us’, and a man answered. So far, so good. I told him that I would like to rent a small car for one week–how much for a small car? And I gave him the dates.
He yelled something into the phone which I didn’t understand: “I’m sorry; I do not understand. Can you repeat more slowly?” He yelled it louder, but not any more slowly; in fact, because he was louder and possibly irritated by then, it seemed faster. Can you repeat more slowly? Click.
This has happened repeatedly since I’ve been here, and honestly, I’m perplexed. How can anyone think it’s ok to hang up on a potential or actual customer because there’s a communication problem? Plenty of times I’ve been on the receiving end of phone calls where clearly the caller’s first language is not English; that just means that I have to try that much harder to understand how I can help that person.
I really and truly wanted to rent a car. Is business booming so wonderfully that they don’t need my rental business? Or is it some cultural attitude that I haven’t figured out yet? It makes me dread trying to phone any business because I know that the majority of time I’m going to get hung-up on.
We have 2 transformers to convert 2 of my kitchen appliances from 110 to 220 voltage. Well, today we (i.e., *I*) blew the fuse in both. So off to the hardware store to buy replacements for the two different fuses. Since we’ve (i.e., *I* have) blown the fuses before, we figured we would buy three fuses for each of the two different sizes to save us the next trip to the hardware store while I was in the middle of cooking.
Nope. Not allowed. Don’t have a clue why but something about only being able to buy one fuse at a time in this town. He had a whole box of the fuses, so it wasn’t that he was out of stock. He just said we could not buy more than one. Why? Is there some nefarious use of fuses that multiples can’t be sold? Does anybody know the reason? Another baffling mystery.
Yet, despite the frustrations I daily encounter since leaving the United States and moving to Italy, there are many wonderful things to love about this town.
Back in California, I was never serenaded by an orchestra playing Musetta’s Waltz from Puccini’s La Boheme at the bottom of my driveway to welcome me home. I opened my window this morning to hear a nearby band playing “Time to Say Goodbye”. A lone accordion in the distance is playing some festive tune.
Sometimes the town band (yes, this town has its own band–shades of Mayberry but more talented!) marches past my window on the way to the church. I don’t know the reason for the musical procession, but I really enjoy it. La musica! It certainly soothes the beast in me.
And no matter how hot it is during the day, we venture out at dark to join the nightly passeggiata along the seafront, listen to the waves, catch a breeze, watch the other families, stroll past the temporary stalls set up for the summer, indulge in a gelato, and sit on one of many waterfront benches to simply inhale the ambience.
Here, life is simple. Life is good.