Tuesday, December 09, 2003

Italians are like surly teenagers, just without the spots. Queuing for my ticket on Saturday morning I was reminded of the dinner queue at school: everybody is trying to push in, ‘subtly’ shuffling around to place themselves just in front of you. Instead of being able to read my book I had to concentrate on holding my place for 10 minutes; I would never have got to the front otherwise. Why do they make the queuing lane wide enough for three people if the locals are just going to treat it like banger race? And, just like at school, it wasn’t difficult to find the pitiful addicts getting one last puff just out of view of the lobby (where it’s banned) before boarding the train.

Unfortuantely this was only the first “Oh, for fuck’s sake” moment of the day. Arriving at the border town of Gorizia I asked the ticket lady for a timetable to help me plan my return journey. She gave me a look which suggested thinly veiled contempt but was really pure laziness: How dare I ask her to do anything that disturbs her mindless daydreaming? “There aren’t any” she said. I went over to the timetables but, wary of being caught out by a holiday timetable on the Monday, I returned to the ticket booth and asked again. This time she sighed, got up (!) and open a draw where there were loads. Who on earth does she think she is, simply lying to me because she’s too lazy to get off her bored fat arse? Conceited bitch. That teenager analogy was looking more and more apt. Sadly this complete lack of a service culture is all too frequent here: last week my boss went to try and get the electricity turned on in her new house – why it can’t be done on the phone I don’t know – and was immediately greeted with “It can’t be done”. No questions, no attempt at explination, just “It can’t be done”. Turned out of course it could be done, it just required a lot of documents which the clerk assumed my boss didn’t have on her; people rarely do have them all. But she’d been there the week before so knew what she needed; she still had to tell the clerk where her file would be found though. In what sort of a country are public services run like this?

I apologise; I’ve gone off on a wild tangent right at the beginning of my Slovenian tale. So this post ends here. I’m going to start again and dare somebody to defend these Italians.

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