|Written by Bridie O'Donnell|
|Wednesday, 21 April 2010 07:10|
Waiting.....The action of staying where one is or delaying action until a particular time or until something else happens. It's all we do here in Europe, and it's the not-so-silent killer of the human spirit.
The action of staying where one is or delaying action until a particular time or until something else happens. It's all we do here in Europe, and it's the not-so-silent killer of the human spirit.
Icelandic volcanoes selfishly ruin the travel plans of millions of people and force them to wait in completely un-exotic locations; we sit in cars away from the biting cold, waiting to start a race so it can be over; and perhaps most cruelly, I wait at the Post Italiane Office.
I go there expectantly, with positive thoughts and well practised lines using the correct verbs. I take my ticket (the appropriate one for my particular request), and I wait.
Six women in their mid-50s sit behind bullet proof glass (which makes complete sense to me after my first experience). They know who has the power in this game, and they know that this is not America. Customer service is for sissies.
There's one specific numerical system for old men in beige cardigans, carrying small dogs while they pay their electrickery bills. Another for glamorous young women who are irritated at having to do the banking for their cafe. And there's a very special queue for packages, which has the greatest number of customers and one staff member. It makes the slow crawl of the passport control serpent look like Valentino Rossi on a Honda.
This is the queue I'm in every day.
I take a number to be seen, stand for about for 10-25mins, and attentively watch the lights on the board to see when my deli number is up. There! P143!! GO!
I ask if anything has arrived for me at the Team Valdarno post box, and she strolls around the corner, pausing to comment on Giovanna's new scarf. She casts a cursory glance in the direction of #48, meanders back, asks how Clara got on with the daughter-in-law and finally sits down behind her strangle-proof glass with a big sigh. "Alora.... no. Niente" and pushes the button for P144. "Daverro? Sei sicuro?" I ask, in total disbelief that gifts sent from home 3 weeks ago should not have arrived yet. She gives me a half smile, more out of pity that I seem to be bothering to play this futile game of questioning the efficiency of the italian postal service.
On the rare occasion that packages have actually arrived, we go through a stringent security process whereby she opens a glass door on her side, and places said package on a small shelf. Then she locks her side and unlocks mine, so I can retrieve my SRAM spare parts or my new Lightweight disc or my Tula aero bar parts.
The same occurs in reverse if I am sending something away (of course, I have to queue to buy the package, then queue again to put it in the Double Doored Room of Grande Security). I am usually in cycling kit, but it's taken 6 weeks for her to bother to recognise me. I'm not taking it personally, I think this women scared Mussolini into hanging himself off that fence. If my Haigh's chocolate caramels ever arrive from the fabulous Ms Jolly, I may give one to la Matron. It would be worth taking another ticket just to witness a perk to her blood sugar.