Colosseum_in_Rome,_Italy_-_April_2007

The Eternal Clusterfuck

As soon as I got to Rome, everything went to shit. I deplaned, latrined and went to find the baggage claim (had to check my knife). I strode through a maze of the usual outlets–Dolche and Gabanna, Gucci, some French-sounding ones–tracking the signs for baggage claim. They led me to the wrong section. How is there a wrong section? This is Italy–go to the wrong baggage claim and you’re fucked. Only numbers 11-16, the display-boards flashed too quickly between 6 languages and were loaded with irrelevant information–trains and buses that had either departed or would not depart for hours… and there didn’t seem to be anyone to ask. I got really pissed for a second. Typical, exactly what I had expected from my ancestral people. But then my inner I-tie started to get it.

I went to the “lost baggage” desk and asked a guy in a uniform where my stuff was supposed to be. He spoke English but told me to ask the woman behind the counter. So I demanded of her where could I find it (“domandare” it. “to ask”). She said I was in the wrong terminal, that I had to exit, go around to terminal 3, pass back through security (staff security, not regular). There I’d find my flight’s carrousel. I started to get it. Just say everything clearly and frantically, and these people will make it happen.

I successfully negotiating security, ran the wrong way past a cluster of heavily armed Carabinieri without comment, and found my bag. Then I went to find a bus. Another fiasco ensued. I went to the correct bus-lane and asked the nearest guy. He did not speak English–finally, I thought, this is how I remember Europe from childhood. I broke out the Italanish and got my answer: hurry over to that counter and buy a ticket. Another guy–this one had no idea that the bus for which she was ostensibly selling tickets was late, and that I could, in fact, still buy one. She insisted I buy from another company (all the money is going to the same place anyway, right?).

And then, the operatic climax. Everyone at the airport was trying to get on the same bus. They had formed what passes in this country for a line. It was obvious that not everyone could get on. Some would have to wait another half hour. A pretty blonde girl started smoking–she had the right idea.

She had the right idea
Eh? Whadayagonnado?

The bus rolled up late, and discipline broke down. A lot of people broke ranks to stuff their suitcases in the luggage compartment, but I knew better. I kept my backpack on and clutched my hobo-bag and bumrushed the main door with everyone else. In the melee, an impeccably polite Iberian lady insisted that I had been in front of her. I looked at her and shrugged. It did not fucking matter. Most of us got on the bus, and some Russian girls laughed at those who didn’t. The whole scene was nauseatingly Italian. And the grace-note–the conductor packed the bus to perfection. Everyone, and my backpack, had a seat.

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