Kamea and I decide to find a bus that will take us to the mall, which is about a 12-minute ride from our apartment in Rovigo, Italy.
We walk to the bus stop (a parking lot), where there are four buses sitting, mostly empty. There is one man standing in the middle of the lot, and he looks official. He has on a tie and a vest. Clearly, he’s the ringleader of the bus drivers.
So I go up to him. I ask him if he speaks English, “Buongiorno. Parli inglese?”
He said, “No.”
Then, he put his arm around me, and walks me over to a bus where he said someone does speak English (in Italian, of course). I can see that the person is young – yes, chances are good he speaks some English.
We need to get to the mall.
The man with his arm around me tells the other bus driver I need help. I ask this young driver which bus will take us to the mall.
All of the bus drivers are sitting in their respective buses, talking to each other with the doors open and their feet kicked up on the steering wheels, talking over each other as they are all answering (in Italian) how we get to the mall – a common example of the relaxed and helpful demeanor of Italians. They’re friendly and everyone is willing to jump in and help, offering their expert opinion.
I’m reminded of this when I read in one of my favorite author’s, Elizabeth Minchilli’s book, Eating Rome…
Over the years I’ve learned that if I don’t recognize a vegetable (at the market), I needn’t worry about how to prepare it. A simple “Come se fa?” (“How do you do it?”) usually results not only in the fruttivendolo giving me her favorite recipe, but, nine times out of ten, the other women waiting patiently for their turn will also chime in. Before I know it, I’m the focus of a lively discussion on the merits of whether to roast or braise, garlic versus onion, or the dilemma of deciding to make a soup or pasta.
Back to my day… the young driver confirms that yes, the correct bus to get to the mall is here and points the way.