Posted on Thu May 5, 2017
A couple of short stories about italian culture. Situations like these happen everywhere, but they are emblematic in Italy.
Story one. While attending university, I was sharing rent for an apartment with other four, young persons; some students, some not; I was not the richest. Common expenses were split equally among us: bills, basic supplies (sugar, toilet paper, light bulbs, …).
Someone proposed to periodically (once a month) put some cash in a cash reserve (a jar “hidden” in the fridge), so that, when some supply was finished, anyone could by a new unit without having to rely only on his/her own money. I voted against, I lost four to one.
After a short warm up time span, the scenario stabilises on this: everyone puts in the same amount of money; we (which means: almost always me) buy stuff; money runs out; I put in my new share; we buy stuff; money runs out; on a small message whiteboard we were keeping near the door, I write that we are out of money; after a while, others put in their share. Repeat.
I endured this for a while (it may surprise some, but I do want to use toilet paper). Every now and then I was fed up and stopped looking after things. The unanimous reaction (four to one, remember) was to blame me because I had to warn them.
Sod. Off. I am sure that there is some psychological/social groups behaviour theory to explain this dynamic; I am too ignorant to know it.
Story two. While attending university, I used train to move between Cremona and Milano. Occasionally, I ran into a guy I knew; then a laureate in engineering, he was commuting for his work; a jacket–and–tie job.
Every train carriage has an emergency brake system, which passengers can activate by pulling a handle; a new handle usually ends with a pommel: a metal sphere which has no use other than being a pommel. The pommel allows a firm grasp of the handle; if you are weak, for example an old person, you need it because you have to break a seal to pull the handle. This guy notices the pommel: “Look at this!”; he unscrews it and pockets it.
“What are you doing?” I ask him, “Leave it in place!”.
“I want it!”, he replies.
“You want it for what?”, I enquire.
“I just want it!”, he exclaims.
“What are you going to do with it? Keep it on your bedside table?”, I am a bit pissed.
I dunno what to say anymore; I just shut up. I doubt he is a collector of pommels or a train enthusiast.
I am not an Earthling; I come from Vega; fellow Veganians: I know you are among us! Can someone just pass by and give me a ride home?