Jul 20, 2008


Italians dont* make lines. At traffic lights, at gelato counters, when walking on the street - they just dont. Its frustrating at first, but actually gratifying once I got used to it. Slithering my way to the front and ordering before other tourists even pull out their wallet to count their change? OH HECK YES.

*Forgive this little grammar hiccup: these keyboards dont have asterisk keys! Whatever shall I do? Should I avoid contractions? Can I really just leave that grammar out there like that? What about everything I ever learned in English class? Do I go back and fix this later? Will my English teachers ever find out? Will I be able to live with the shame? I DONT KNOW.

So I was walking through the old Roman forum and saw a fountain spouting water and thought of my empty water bottle and decided to do the math and fill it up.* There were a bunch of Americans in the line and I just went up to the spout and waited for the woman to finish filling up her bottles, lines may be the most fair way to get things done, but they can be inefficient-all the water that falls to the basin could be in a bottle! I thought it was a favor to the environment (also I was very thirsty). Now, I have not been talking to people much other than my sister. I dont speak Italian and dont understand it so I tend to keep my mouth shut. So I stood their, silent, waiting for her to finish and her husband is behind her and casually talking about how its pretty stupid that Italians cant form a gawd damned line and then he sees me and is all, "Oh, look! We got one right here!"


Of course, I did what I normally do when Im put in an embarassing and shamed position: stayed silent. It was probably for the best. Well. Probably saying "When in Rome, dude" would have packed a punch, but man! Why you gotta be all American about it?*

*I HAVE DETERMINED that the world does not hate Americans, but mostly New Yorkers. There were some New Yorkers on our trip and they insisted on yelling out wrong answers and shouting across the tour group to eachother and keeping their little fan/spritzers buzzing the whole time and just being LOUD and tipping the tour guide in front of everyone and frankly it made me embarassed. I am sorry, New York, I am sorry, America, but sometimes I think its a good idea to sew a Canadian flag to my backpack when Iàm traveling internationally.

Vatican tomorrow, then home. Its time for a good shower.

*Any water that comes from any spout in Rome is potable. Hooray, aqueducts!


Anonymous said...

What a great post! You totally should've said "when in Rome, dude," but I realize how we often think of the best comebacks too late.

I agree with you about New Yorkers (most often) tending to be the scourge of American travelers overseas.

Nooo, there aren't fast food joints everywhere. Yes, the bathrooms are different. Why leave your country if you don't want to experience something new? I used to live in a tourist town in the Poconos and oddly enough they could be just as bad that close to home.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I agree w/ Sarina. I'm reading all about Rome. I just finished a Caesar bio and now have plunged into Rubicon. That's the closest I'll ever get. I envy you.

j black said...

The way the IGNORANT tourist made those comments about Italians (while mistaking you for a native) is the WHY America is hated by many countries because Americans have those same attitudes abroad as well as here in the States.
I guess IGNORANCE is international also.