to have Italian patience

September 4th, 2006

Correct me if I'm wrong, but this is something I noticed in Italy. I'm not saying it's an Italian specific thing, but that is my association at least. See, Italians are temperamental. If you make a mistake, they won't gently tap on your shoulder, whisper "I'm terribly sorry to disturb you, sir" and *then* tell you what you "could have done differently". No, they will come right out and say it, yell it most of the time. If you make a small mistake in traffic, you get car horns going off all the way around you, because order must be preserved.

Here's the rub. Italians will stand in line at the post office or the check out line in the supermarket for an hour without issuing a hint of complaint. They will happily blather on with their friend (or on the cell phone) without the slightest sign of alarm of urgency. This is what I call Italian patience, because in spite of being so impatient in some contexts, they can be incredibly patient elsewhere. Why get pissed off about waiting in line? There's nothing you can do about it anyway, this is just the way it is.

I had a long list of things to do today, and I haven't done any of them, because I don't have Italian patience. At the student desk, you take a number and wait your turn. My number was 30, t-h-i-r-t-y, numbers beyond the current number being served. At a processing rate of about 5 minutes per person, that means I would be waiting 2.5h. It would probably be closer to an hour, because of all the people who took a number, realized how long they would be waiting, and went home. They open tomorrow at 10, I intend to be there at 9.50.

At the bank there was a similar line, and at the train station, ditto. I do wait my turn when I don't have a choice - waiting to board an aircraft, waiting for a bus, waiting in the check out line. But I refuse to waste time waiting when it's completely pointless. And it's not because I manage my time so efficiently that it would set me back, I just cannot accept that 5 minutes worth of business requires waiting 45 minutes in line, it's a matter of principle. If I accept these ridiculous waiting times now, I will never get anything done efficiently ever again, it's all a question of mindset.

Adding to my woes is the delightful ever-present wind that totally sucks blows the fun out of biking and the fact that UU is increasingly a messy construction site. Not only did they not finish anything before the new semester, they have stepped up the degree of chaos since I was last here in July. Since the book I needed wasn't in the store, I went to the library. Well, I tried. It turns out the entire stair case of the building that houses used to house the computer science department is closed off for asbestos removal. So the elevator works, but most of the floors have been shut down entirely as well, including the top floor where the library is once was. There is a note in the elevator about where the various departments have been moved to, but no mention of the library.

Is there such a thing as Polish temperament? I think I may have it.

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1 Responses to "to have Italian patience"

  1. erik says:

    Good lord.

    I would move