Home for the holidays.

by sam on 11/19/2006

First, obviously, let me apologize for not updating for the past two months. Keeping up with a blog can be a bit difficult when the home internet access you insisted on as a condition of moving to another friggin’ country has yet to be installed.

Oh, they’ve been trying. Poor Alessandro, the IT guy in our Milan office, has quietly been losing his mind while trying to deal with the amount of red tape involved in getting internet into someone’s apartment. First, we had a contract with provider A, and we were told that it could take “up to a month” for the activation and the equipment. Now, a month seems a ridiculously long time to wait for me, but I was told by several people that this was pretty standard over there. So, a month goes by, and provider A never activates anything, and when Alessandro tries to find out where the modem is, it turns out that “they never ordered it.”

Needless to say, he cancelled the service contract. So then we decide to go with provider B. Now, provider B is actually a subsidiary of the incumbent telephone operator, so activation shouldn’t be a problem (cable TV infrastructure doesn’t exist in italy – everything is either run through satellite or the phone lines). Except, provider B screws up the contract, so they need to start over. Unfortunately, it takes at least a week to “cancel” the old contract and enter into a new one, even though the mistake was basically some data-entry lackey’s typo. So, we finally got the right “contract” about two weeks ago, meaning that activation should happen any day now. Alessandro was actually trying to get it done before I left, but that was probably wishful thinking on his part, so maybe (maybe!) when I get back it’ll be ready to hook up.

In the meantime I have some very funny e-mails from Alessandro, in broken english, that consist of him just not understanding why they don’t want to take our money.

Of course, I can’t actually deal with anything myself, because you need a codice fiscale to enter into any sort of agreement in Italy (it’s basically the Italian equivalent of a social security number, but it’s used for everything), and since I’m only technically a tourist, I can’t really qualify to get one.


I actually wrote a bunch of posts on my computer, even knowing that I couldn’t post them, just to keep myself a bit current. But since they all basically consist of me bitching about the fact that I have no internet, and that I haven’t really done a whole lot other than work, I’ll try to summarize a bit.

I have no internet. I’ve been working too much. Milan is quite beautiful. The food is good. I’m really happy about the US election. I’ll be home for Thanksgiving.

So. The election. Needless to say I did a little dance in my chair at work on Wednesday morning. My dad (my dad!) sent me an e-mail that was practically giddy with excitement.

I actually wrote an entire post about this one right in the aftermath, so I’ll try to get that one up later, but I will say it’s been really interesting to see the reaction from an international perspective in particular. People in Italy normally don’t talk about politics. It’s considered rude. But I went to a meeting with a client on the Friday after the election, and when I mentioned that I was coming home for two weeks, he said, with a smile, “it’s like you’re going home to a different country now!” And I think that captures it pretty darn well. People here in the US can argue back and forth about the “meaning” of this election, but overseas, they all just think that we’ve finally come to our senses and given GWB the giant “fuck you” that he’s deserved for so long. More later.

But back to me…

I’m still jetlagged. I woke up yesterday to go to the airport at 5:30 in the morning, Italian time. then spent over 9 hours on a plane, with a crazy woman sitting behind me. No joke – she didn’t like her seat, so she threatened to get off the plane unless the stewardess forced someone else to move so that she could have the seat she wanted. Someone from ground crew and the pilot had to get involved. They were apparently about three seconds away from just letting her get off the plane when the girl behind me agreed to move. This woman tried to claim that they wouldn’t let her pick her seat when she booked the ticket, which is complete bullshit because everyone else pointed out, we all check the internet seat locater thing obsessively. Which means that she either booked her ticket at the last minute, or on something like priceline, where she thought she could have it both ways – book a super cheapskate restricted fare and then throw a fit until she got a premium economy seat.

(now, premium economy is exactly the same seat/same legroom as regular economy, except that it’s at the very front behind business class, meaning that you can get off the plane faster – you have to either pay a bit extra or be be a premium/elite flyer to get one).

So. that was self-absorbed bitch number one. The couple across the aisle from myself and I spent the entire flight pretty much making fun of her. really quietly. The flight attendants, needless to say, loved us (I’m not being sarcastic there – they actually gave us additional gossip about the whole situation when they got the chance).

Ordinarily, I would have been perfectly happy to see her get escorted off the flight, but these days, with the stepped up security, that would have meant also digging her bags out and getting them off the plane. Since we were about 10 minutes from our scheduled departure when this all started happening, it would have caused some pretty serious delays.

Self-absorbed bitch number two showed up when I arrived home and decided to go to the grocery store. At this point, I’ve been awake for at least 20 hours. I have a freshdirect delivery coming Sunday morning, but I still needed some real basics, like milk. So I dragged myself to the food emporium, bought the six things I needed, and got on the express line. where I waited patiently, and put my stuff on the conveyor belt when I got the chance. Then (and only then), the woman behind me on line, who is clutching a bag of goldfish crackers, pipes up in this super sweet voice to “request” that I let her go in front of me, seeing as she only has the one item. Now, on any other day, I probably would have let her without thinking about it, but I was pretty damn tired. and I thought for a second, and finally said back “you know, I don’t understand why you can’t just wait in line like everyone else.” It’s not like I had 100 items to ring up and she would have to wait very long, but she then starts responding, in this totally faux-sweet voice, about how she “really appreciates my kindness.” You know, trying to make me feel guilty because I wouldn’t let her cut the fucking line. I just ignored her at that point, but what I wanted to do was turn around and tell her to go fuck herself. Did I mention that I had been awake for, like, 20 hours at that point, and most of those had been spent in an airplane or Newark, New Jersey?

She didn’t know who I was, or whether I was actually in a hurry to get anywhere, or whether I was exhausted. She just assumed that her needs were somehow superior to mine and entitled her to special treatment, where she didn’t need to behave like everyone else at the damn supermarket. Now, if she had been holding, say, baby formula, or tampons, I might have assumed that she had some sort of emergency situation, but she could damn well wait 30 more seconds for her crackers (and don’t anyone tell me that maybe she was going into diabetic shock – if that were the case, no one would have objected to her eating some damn crackers in line and then paying for them after).

I know this pissed me off more than it should have, and I certainly have my own moments of selfishness, but yesterday I just seemed to encounter more than my usual share of people who seemed to think that the rules that apply to everyone else don’t apply to them. Maybe exhaustion and jet lag give me some sort of 6th sense for these things.

OK. A real entry later. I promise. Plus, I’ve read about 10 new books!

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