Our local post office is a piece of work. Nothing ever works, e.g. the ATM, the machine that spits out numbers, they are always running out of forms, they don't know the price of postage (see Going Postal), the workers are slow and morose (when they are not laughing at their own jokes, that is), the lines are long, it's hot and small, there aren't enough seats, M, N, O, P, I could go on all day.
The other day, most of the things wrong with our local branch went wronger, causing a conflagration of tempers that made La Bimba's head spin. A large man, probably in his late 30s, early 40s, started having a mild fit over the fact that the ATM wasn't working, forcing him to pay for his mailings in cash, and that the office had run out of return receipt forms. It was a hot day, and though there were few people on line, the proceedings were moving at snail-on-ludes's pace. The young male postal worker was handling a woman's mailings, stamping and scanning and typing, while chatting up the middle-aged lady-troll postal worker, who was sitting at the adjacent window, helping no one. The constant drolleries issuing forth from the male postal worker lit the end of the pissed off man's tether, sending the spark up through his ass and out the top of his head in a burst of venom and bile.
"This country is an embarrassment! You don't know how to work! All you do is talk! How are you supposed to work, when all you do is talk! Che vergogna! Che vergogna!"
An American postal worker, would probably ignore the man's tirade, out of the sheer commonplaceness of having a maniac on line, or out of fear that said maniac might be toting a firearm. The Neapolitan postal worker, rather, got into it with the guy, saying, "Don't tell me how to do my job. I know how to do my job," etc. The angry fellow got even angrier, raising his voice and pumping his fist. The lady-troll worker was now helping an elderly gentleman, who starting screaming, "I can't hear what she's saying with you screaming like that!" Now the original lunatic starting calling the old man a sheep (a chicken, for you Anglophones), among other things. Surprisingly, the old man got all up in the younger, bigger guy's face, saying, "I'm not afraid of you! YOU WANNA PIECE OF ME!" Thankfully, the bigger, younger guy backed up, saying, "Stai calmo! Stai calmo!"
I was exchanging glances with the Sri Lankan guy, who works at the nearby salumeria, shaking my head, whispering to La Bimba to just ignore the purgatories. I was afraid she would start clapping like she does when two toddlers are pulling each others' hair and biting each other. She loves a good brawl! I finally made it to the window of the male postal worker, but since I had to fill out a form, I let the raging man go ahead of me, where he continued to berate the postal worker, but only until it seemed like the guy might stop processing his requests. Then he backed off. He wanted his letters mailed like the rest of us.
When he finally left, those who remained let out a collective sigh of relief and agreed that the guy had some problems, maybe at home, maybe at work. Or maybe it just gets to be too much, when it's hot and humid and the simplest systems don't function. I would feel for the guy if I weren't convinced he was part of the problem.
Another obnoxious observation obnoxiously observed: another elevator that ends in a flight of steps. The elevator that goes from Via Acton up to Piazza Plebiscito ends in a flight of steps. It has an electric wheelchair lift, but I can't see putting the stroller on it. The day I had to carry La Bimba in her stroller up those stairs, a stream, a river, a torrent of pensioners finishing up a protest march came down the stairs. After letting a couple of dozen old folks with flags pass, I decided I would probably be there all day if I didn't go up immediately. So, I gave them my best, "Permesso! Attenzione! Non c'è spazio per una doppia fila!" (single file please!), and fought my way through. They were actually very kind about it, still wearing the glow of solidarity, 15,000 strong.
Lastly, did I mention that when La Bimba speaks her language, her very own babble-yodel, to people on the funicolare or on the street, many, many of her addressees ask me, "Is she speaking English?"