Monday, June 25, 2007


Today’s topic: public transportation… AGAIN!
I really do not understand why it's so difficult to manage the buses, trams, and trains in a city like this. I’m a compulsive organizer and I, who have no experience working in city administration, could list a few hundred things they could do to make the system more efficient and user-friendly. One for example: make announcements when trains are late or cancelled. It’s as simple as that. At least this way, passengers could plan accordingly, take other buses, trains, metros, whatever. But no…
This morning after waiting 30 minutes for my train (which is normally supposed to arrive every 15 minutes) I started to get suspicious because I saw lots of VERY disgruntled looking commuters. I asked around a bit only to discover some of these people had been waiting 2 hours for a train, but nothing had shown up yet. After 1 hour of waiting for my trenino to Tiburtina, not ONE single announcement was made regarding why, when, or what. There were rumors that some Neapolitans had been fined by the Police for not having a ticket, so said Neapolitans got off the train and protested on the tracks at Tiburtina, blocking train traffic for 4 hours… that seemed a little insane to me, even for Italy! I still have NO idea what happened or why the train took forever to show up and when it did show up and I got in and sat down, I overheard passengers saying it wasn’t even going to go all the way to Tiburtina. At that point, my nerves were shot, I was sweating like a hog, and the last thing I wanted to do was try to find another way to get to work. So I called in and said “I’m working from home today.” The end.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Family fun & hooters

Is it just me, or is this ad downright wrong? Why advertise a family water-park with a picture of Miss Hooters straddling a dolphin? So inappropriate.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Yogurt = nudity

What’s the deal with yogurt commercials in this country? Why do they always use naked or semi-naked ladies to sell yogurt? I just don't see the connection...

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

ode to public transportation

Public transportation, how I loathe thee, let me count the ways…
I’m one of those ex-pats who has NEVER driven in Italy. I have an American license but I’ve never had a car here because my neighborhood is a parking nightmare, plus with registration, insurance & gas, I probably couldn’t afford a car anyway. I’m scared shitless to drive a motorino (riding on the back of one suits me fine though!) soooo I’m eternally condemned to public transportation. Most Romans I know avoid all “mezzi” like the plague and I don’t blame them. I used to work 5 minutes from my home which meant a nice, leisurely stroll to work in the morning, but for about 8 months now I’ve had to haul some ass: tram to stazione Trastevere then the commuter train (trenino) to stazione Tiburtina. Yes, it’s 1,000 times better than taking the metro which is filthy, stinky, and slow BUT it’s still a pain in gluteus maximus. Let me share with you the joys of my daily commute:
I walk quickly to the tram stop, making sure not to run or I might get tackled by one of the many loose punkabbestia dogs hanging around the small, shit-covered grass area near the tram stop. As the tram nears the platform, I stand back and watch as the locals gather smack dab in front of the opening doors… even if the tram is empty, there still seems to be a race to get inside first and grab a seat. This always grates on my nerves because it’s soooo counterproductive. If they would just let the people out first there would be no need to push and shove, and it would be much more pleasant for us all! It’s common sense and common courtesy.
I watch the smokers outside take their last drag from a cigarette and then exhale INSIDE of the tram. Classy! They aren’t technically smoking in the tram but they’ve just filled it with the smell of smoke for the next 5 stops. On the tram, most people behave as if they were raised in a cave: standing right on top of you when there is plenty of room elsewhere, standing way too close behind you, not holding onto the bars and thus plowing into you once the tram accelerates, hogging the bars and leaning full body into them hence squashing your hands, or harassing you with the “scende alla prossima?” question even though there is plenty of room for them to go around you (note: I normally do not block the doors, as I consider it a major public trans faux pas, but if the tram is crowded you use any space you can get). As we reach the big stop, half of the tram has already huddled around the doors as if there were some invisible prize waiting for the person who steps off the tram first. The tram doors open and we are greeted by hoards inconsiderate passengers shoving their way inside before we’ve managed to step out. At this point I’m usually muttering under my breath. But wait, there’s more!!!
Next I have to walk through the always foul and smoky stazione Trastevere. Despite all of the no smoking signage, people are puffing away in the lobby and in the underpasses. Side note: I actually wrote a complaint letter to Trenitalia about that, so far no response! (YES, I write complaint letters, that’s how I am … it’s part of my character to fight for what I think is right). Speaking of underpasses, why don’t people walk on the right side of the corridor/stairway? It’s really not that complicated- if those exiting stay to the right, they’d leave room for those of us entering on the right. But instead, you get enveloped in this sea of people pushing their way up the stairs while you elbow and shoulder your way down.
Now I wait at the platform until the train decides to show up, it’s usually about 5-10 minutes late every day. It shows up, I step back and watch the senseless “let me shove my way in before everybody gets out” game, then I step inside like the civilized person my mamma raised me to be. There is one positive aspect I must mention- I have ALWAYS found a seat on the train. It may have been filthy or stinky or in a non-air conditioned car but I’ve never had to stand.
And that is why I hate public transportation… I know, lots of whiny whining BUT I feel I have the right to complain because I actually buy a yearly bus pass unlike the majority of people. So there!

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

it's not the 25 cents...

Taxis in Rome: not my favorite topic but it’s on my mind right now. Why? Well, I had another run-in with a taxi driver. Here’s the story: I’m running late to meet some friends so I hop in cab. We reach my destination and the meter says 8.75. I’m paying by credit card (I asked before hopping in because not many cabs are equipped with credit card/debit card readers) and as I'm about to sign the receipt, I notice the total says 9.00 Euro. So I ask Mr. Taxi Jerk why the meter says one price and my credit card receipt says another. He brushes it off by saying: “That’s what WE usually do”. We who? All taxi drivers? Romans? Service providers in general? At this point I’m late but annoyed enough that I’m not going to let it go. I let him have it and specify that it’s not about the 25 cents, it’s the principle. He has no right to round up, it’s not acceptable and furthermore it’s illegal. Mr. Taxi Jerk starts to get freaked out because he thought I was just some clueless, gullible foreigner but he now realizes he’s in trouble. He tries to calm me down by saying: “Don’t get mad” (yeah, like that’ll work!) and even offers to give me 25 cents back. Too little too late. At this point I storm out and am already plotting my revenge. I have a credit card receipt that can be traced back to the vehicle and driver, and I intend on using it.
I called the cab company the next day and told them my story. They were very courteous and apologetic. I was asked to fax the receipt so they could find out who the culprit was and take necessary measures. As some of you may know, taxi drivers in Rome constantly rip foreigners off: taking the longest routes, adding mysterious surcharges and whatnot… I say enough is enough, just because I have a slight accent does not mean I’m an idiot. So hopefully justice will prevail and I feel good about that!