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 !!

Monday, January 31, 2011

Snooping, Tipping and Mr. Scary IKEA Shuttle Driver

Here's something I came across the other day as I was snooping around on Facebook. Well, I wasn't really snooping, was I? You and I both know that people post thoughts, comments and photos on Facebook for the sole purpose of sharing with others. I mean, c'mon, everyone knows that, right? Right?

Apparently not. 

I have a friend, Mrs. Mannerly, who hasn't quite grasped the full sense of "social network". I've posted photos of people, gatherings and events that are familiar to her and I'd noticed that she would only comment or "like" those in which she was "tagged". Also, as my superior at work, I'd often expected her to comment or "like" some of my uploads that I'd shared of my Italian students' work, projects and assignments. When I would mention a particular project that I'd documented using photos or video, she was always very happy and asked if she could have a copy or if I wouldn't mind sharing it with colleagues so as to give them new ideas. I never thought much to remind her of their presence on Facebook. I just assumed she wanted originals sent directly to her mailbox, although ... I couldn't figure out why. 

Well, one day, when she again asked me to send her copies of photos and videos, I knew it would be days before I'd have the time to send such huge files, so I replied, "Why don't you just have a look on Facebook? If there's anything you want, I'll send it to you." After my lessons had finished, I passed by her office to ask if she'd seen anything in particular that she'd liked. "There was nothing on my Facebook," she answered. "Oh? Everything's there on my wall," I said. She looked a little puzzled, "On your wall? I can't go to your wall.

Now, it was my turn to look puzzled, "Um ... why not?" And then, with the utmost sincerity, she replied, "Oh, I could never just go and snoop around another's wall. That's private." I couldn't help but to laugh, "But you're supposed to go to other people's walls ... that's ... um, you know, kinda the whole point." She shook her head, adamant in her endeavor to remain a perfectly prim and proper Englishwoman, "Nooooo. I could never be that rude!" It didn't occur to me at the time to remind her that this is, in fact, how other people were able to comment on her wall, her tagged photos and such. Perhaps she assumes that other people are snooping around her pages and she's just too polite to object. Oh, silly, silly Mrs. Mannerly !

Anyway, the point of today's post is not really about Mrs. Mannerly 's well-intentioned, yet still misplaced use of internet etiquette. It's actually about the content of the screenshot, above: tipping. Now, these men, all three of whom are American, had a short conversation about their thoughts on tipping in America compared to tipping in two other countries (Italy was not mentioned). This got me thinking. I'm constantly hearing from Italians about the terrible quality of service found here and I, myself, admit to my fair share of complaints. 

I began to wonder: would tipping make a difference, as the last commenter stated, here, in Italy? Would I finally receive a warm, un-soggy pizza if the delivery guy thought he'd receive a good sized tip for arriving within the theoretical 30 minute time frame as advertised on the flyer rather than the 1 hour 30 minutes that it actually takes? Would the waiters and waitresses eventually serve my meals within a reasonable time and make me feel welcome for having chosen that particular establishment in which to spend my hard earned money if they expected to be compensated for the time and energy they've invested in me? Would the supermarket clerks, at last, live up to the words, "Thank you and have a nice day!" that are found printed on every single biodegradable plastic bag they make me pay 10 cents for, and kindly refrain from making me all but beg for their cooperation in making my grocery shopping experience just a teency weency bit more pleasant? And would they please, please, just once, place my change into my waiting and open hand?! 

To be honest, I am a tipper. I'm American, after all. It's been ingrained into my way of thinking and reasoning since the very first time I heard, "Would you like a soup or salad with that?" Much to Mr. Marito 's dismay, I insist on giving a large tip when I feel the service was especially good or when I've received some extra-ordinary care or attention. I'll even ask for the server's name and make sure they know how much their actions were appreciated. Likewise, when I've received particularly extra-ordinary bad service, I'll ask to speak with a superior, if only to make my complaint known. Or if there's a comment box - I'll use it.

Once, years ago when IKEA still offered a shuttle service from the metro terminal, I was riding with little Ms. SmartyPants  and even littler Mr. Uometto. I purposefully chose the seat directly behind the driver because it was the only one which offered seat belts. I knew the shuttle well. On rainy days, Mrs. OkieDokieShmokiePokie  and I would take our little ones to IKEA for the alloted one hour timed limit of fun fun fun in the IKEA play area. The kids would drown themselves in the plastic ball pool while she and I had a moment's peace and tranquility in the cafeteria. 

As it turned out, today, the belts were broken, each one missing a closing latch. As the driver pulled away from the terminal, I tried searching for the missing latches as belts have a habit of hiding in the folds of seat. When the driver saw that I was fumbling with the belts, he immediately began to yell at me and he did so in a belligerent and condescending manner, "TU, non devi toccaaaare le cintuuure! " (YOU, mustn't toooouch the seeeeeaaatbelts!) I was taken off guard and meekly replied, "I'm trying to buckle in my children." He started chuckling to himself and then began speaking to other passengers, "We're just driving a few blocks and this one thinks she needs to buckle in her kids. Ha!  These people." So I informed him and my fellow passengers of a statistic that I had heard repeatedly on public service announcements back in the US. I said, "Well, as a matter of fact, the majority of traffic accidents occur within 15 kilometers from home." I couldn't say if my words of wisdom were appreciated or not as most of the passengers were looking away in an obvious attempt to hide their discomfort of being in the midst of a know it all mom with two small children and a loud annoyed driver of a moving vehicle. "What the *bleeep*  is this one saying?! You think you're going to see an accident driving from Anagnina to IKEA?! BAH! " I could see he was becoming more and more irritated at just the thought of my thought of the possibility of an accident. It didn't help matters when, on the short ride to our destination, traffic was slowed down due to an accident at the exit leading to the store ground's entrance. It was all I could do not to show my I-told-you-so face, something that came rather naturally after two children. 

The rest of the ride was quiet except for the continual huffing and puffing and under-his-breath murmuring of the very agitated driver. Once we reached the shuttle parking space, I waited while everyone quickly shuffled off, eager to get away from the crazy safety lady and the hyperventilating shuttle driver. When everyone had left, I stood up and took a step toward him. "I'd like your name, please." It must have surprised him because he answered, "Francesco," before he could remember that he hated me, and then he added, "Why?" I replied, "I think you were very rude and discourteous in the way you treated me. I was simply trying to make my children as safe as I could. What should it matter to you if I use the seatbelt? Is it not there for that purpose? I wonder how you would react if some stranger treated your daughter or mother or wife the way you've treated me. I'm going into the store and writing a complaint about you, Mr. Francesco." And before he could say a word, I lifted Mr. Uometto  into my arms and we were off the shuttle. I nearly dragged Ms. SmartyPants  on the ground in my attempt to get as far away from the driver as I possibly could and as quickly as I possibly could. 

Only when I'd reached the escalator inside the store and stopped to ride the moving stairs did I realize I was shaking. The driver was a big scary guy! And Brain could be making this up, but I distinctly remember seeing the corners of his mouth white with bubbly foam ... or it could have been spit. But foam makes it seem all the more dramatic, doesn't it? Well, I did write up that complaint and included the driver's name, the time and date. I don't know if there's any correlation, but only 2 months later, the entire shuttle service was cancelled. Mr. FoamingAtTheMouth was no longer a threat to traffic safety concerned mothers. Good riddance !!

Well, this has turned into another long post. Thanks for sticking through to the end. I know I'm of the long-winded persuasion ... long-winded and easily side-tracked are two very annoying qualities. I blame it on Brain. 

So, back to the tipping. 
What are your thoughts about tipping in Italy? Would it make a difference?


Cowardly Anonymous said...

I've enjoyed today's post and don't worry about getting long winded. you keep it interesting. I don't think tips would make a differnce here. It's the culture.

nicky said...

that's Italian mentality to a point, nobody "officialy" approves or's just not done.

Mr. Glen from the north said...

I for one enjoy BRAINS'S input. she keeps things interesting. and I agree with you n NICKY on tipping. I tip and it doesn't make any diffrence. not one iota. keep up the great work. cheers!

Jim and Margie said...

My husband is a tipper-like you, it's embedded in his brain!! For me, I have no problem not tipping when they charge a 'coperto' To me that covers the tip and even more so because some of the coperto charges are way up there!!!
Also, one waitress at a restaurant we frequented during the week we were looking for a place to live was overwhelmed at the fact that Mr. tipped so generously-did it lead to better service...NO!!!