Thursday, September 26, 2013

a few completely unrelated tales

Over the summer, I ran into ( you don't yet know it, but that is going to prove itself to be a pun) a few unexpected problems while navigating (wow. so punny) the differences between America and Italy where parking was concerned.

The American car I had rented was a "small" SUV, so if you were to add together 3.72 cars in Italy, you would be right on target size-wise. Spacious parking lots are the norm in suburban America and   yet I had a very difficult time parking in them. I discovered that I found parking to be much easier when I was forced to defy the laws of physics and wedge a car into a space that was smaller than said car by a good 6 or 7 inches.
parking in America. See the wide open spaces? See the white lines I am not in between?

parking it Italy. I am second from the top.  That's right. You couldn't slide a piece of paper between those bumpers. 

parking in Italy...
and parking in America. Okay, these two look pretty similar. But only the one in America required a tow-truck.

So, I tried to buy a light bulb the other day. The cashier scanned the light bulb once, twice, three times a lady (if you don't quite get that reference , please refer to "Hello, is it me you're looking for?". Still nothing? How about "Dancing on the Ceiling"? Oh for goodness sake, "Brick House"? ) and the computer did not beep and light-up in recognition. The cashier shook his head at me sadly and told me that I would be unable to purchase the light bulb.
"But it's for sale. In your store," I pointed out helpfully.
"No, it does not show-up in the computer. It is not possible to buy. What? You wish for me to type in the little code on the package? No. It is not possible. No light bulb for you. NEXT!"

 Luckily I am no longer so American-ized as to be stumped by this sheer lack of logic and I was able to successfully purchase the light bulb by going to a  different cashier.

Now lest I make it sound like a certain Italian cashier has the corner market on the absurd, allow me to share with you this tale: A day or two prior, I had stopped in Camper, a fairly mainstream shoe store.

I have had the same pair of Birkenstocks ( *cough* residual of  too many Grateful Dead concerts *end cough*) for a long time. But the strain of all the kilometers --see how I did that? I can totally use the metric system in a sentence--my Birkenstocks have tread ( pun-o-rama) over the last year was too much for them and the sole cracked in half. So I was making the rounds of sandal shopping. An American couple was in the Camper store as well and while I was muttering under my breath about the stupid retail schedule that removes sandals from the shelves during the summer and replaces them with winter boots, I couldn't help but overhear the American woman as she addressed the salesperson. "Can we haggle on these prices?" she asked, holding up a boot. To his credit, the salesperson smiled and regretfully informed her that the prices were universally fixed in all Camper locations.  Because It Is What is Commonly Referred to as A Store.

 The woman was quite annoyed and left in a huff, presumably to go buy a light bulb.


  1. I'm so glad I ran across your blog!!! :) I'm hoping this comment will work. It looks like you drive a bmw wagon? My family (of 5 with 3 car seats) will be moving to Rome in August 2014 for 2 years and I'm trying to figure out what car we should either bring or buy upon arrival. Any suggestions? Any help I would appreciate.

  2. With the clarity of hindsight, I really wish we would have shipped one of our cars. It would have been much easier and less expensive than buying one here. If you have a car that is already the victim of some bumps and bruises (knowing that many more dents and dings are in its Italian future) you may want to look into bringing it. Good luck to you and safe travels!

  3. Thanks! Would you say that bringing our 2008 Honda pilot would be a good decision? Would it be too big to park? That concerns me, but not nearly enough to go out and buy a different car to bring with us or to buy a new one upon our arrival…

    1. That is probably dependent on the area you'll be living; whether or not your home has a parking spot; and how much you anticipate you'll be driving vs. using public transpiration, which will also depend on where you live. It's all a wing and a prayer in Rome!