That would be me, Mrs. Moglie. Married to a native Italian, Mr. Marito.
Mother to a daughter in high school, Ms. SmartyPants and a son in middle school, Mr. Uometto.
Employed at a private British School as an English teacher and Coordinator of Children's Studies.
Part of a small, but growing Protestant church in Frascati, a small town in the hills just outside of Rome.

This is where I sometimes gripe, complain and grumble about the things I dislike, have yet to get used to or simply don't understand about bella Italia.
I do, however, have many people, places and things that I dearly love and I am more than aware of being blessed by each and every one of them.
Also - a few helpful posts for visitors to Rome or for newly arrived ex pats. Check the side bar for tags. I've even some recipes that I've borrowed, tweaked or invented. One thing I've come to love about Italy is how it's changed the way I eat - slow food !! Although ... I do miss Taco Bell ... and Jack in The Box ... and KFC ... and ::sigh::
Thanks for stopping by !!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Short Fingernails, Flat Surfaces and Coins

One of the first things you'll notice in Italy is the use of "money plates" - I use that term for the lack of a better one. I've asked countless Italians what these money plates are called and as of yet, no one has been able to tell me. So, money plates, it shall be. 

In the States, as far as I know, we are in the habit of paying for our purchases by placing money into a cashier's hand. And we also have an expectation of having our change given back to us in similar fashion. Granted, there will be the odd "wife beater" wearing, mullet touting, toothless and inebriated man who might throw his crumpled up bills onto the counter (that's not to say that all toothless and inebriated men with mullet hair cuts who wear sleeveless undershirts do this - I'm generalizing, here, to convey an image and make my point, so, on the off chance that this just happens to describe someone you hold dear, or worse, if it describes you, my apologies, no offence intended), but that's the exception and not the rule in the good ol' US of A. 

If you were in a store in the States and you were waiting for your change, a typical scene would be of a cashier holding your money over the counter until you extended your own hand close to hers so she could then safely place every last bill and coin into your hand. Am I right? We tend not to think of these little things that make America so great. I didn't ... not until I found myself, day after day, reaching my hand out to the cashiers (out of habit) expecting her to "pass" my change to me, when what she ended up doing, each and every time, was completely ignore the open palm before her and simply place/drop/toss the change onto these money plates. And sometimes, straight onto the counter. Now, that may seem a little trivial to you. And I admit, it seems a rather petty thing to get all riled up about. But I think if you were to come and live here without having any forewarning about the customs and habits of the Italian people, and if you were to face a daily deluge of one inconvenience after another, and if you were to feel as though you had stepped into the Twilight Zone simply because you couldn't locate a store item and if you were just throwing a big temper tantrum like a big ol' baby because you were homesick - then maybe, just maybe you would understand where I'm coming from. 

Oh, and if you had just cut your nails that very morning and had to pick up, one at a time, every last coin  from a very flat surface (remember, we don't have 1 euro bills here, anything under 5 euro is a coin) all the while other customers impatiently tap their feet (in unison ... no, I'm kidding), give you mean and scary looks and even go so far as to make discouraging remarks that only cause to hinder your progress of pick-up-every-last-coin-from-a-flat-surface-without-the-advantage-of-having-nails  ... then perhaps you will understand that although trivial, money plates or the lack of them, can amount to a somewhat harrowing experience.

*Notwithstanding, I am able to appreciate the fact that from the Italian clerk's point of view, having experienced no other manner of money exchange, she may possibly view the American's outstretched arm and open palm as a sign of arrogant snobbery or semi-aggressive begging. However, I would think that having taken the initiative to place my money directly into her hands, something in her neocortex would signal to something else in her frontal lobe and she would thereby be able to reason, using logic and abstract thought processes, to determine that I, the customer, would like the same done unto me. But I could be wrong.

1 comment:

nicky said...

I've suddenely realised why your change isn't handed over to you!! It's not bad manners.I went to the tobacconist today , paid and he actually gives you your change in your hand I quickly stuck the change in my pocket and then went to get myself a coffee.It was only when I pulled the change out of my pocket to pay for the coffee that I realised that he had short changed me. Nobody checks money in their hand , but you cancheck it straight away in the money plates! Thats why the honest people put your change in the plate.