Friday, November 9, 2012

Time, on This Side

Each day, I decide that I will meet a new objective, challenge myself, stretch to new heights.  So, it was today, another glorious one in Assisi, that I chose as "Find the Post Office".

A few days ago, I bought an Advent calendar for my granddaughters.  This was a tradition, started by my mother when my children were born. Every year, a new Advent calendar.  Being in Italy at this time, my choice was simple, the Basilica of San Francesco.  Done.  Ready to go.  Time to get it into the mail so that the first door can be opened on the First of December, coming up in about three weeks if I am correct.
I've lost track of days - I don't have a calendar.  I've lost track of time, I just have my wristwatch, not a clock in the apartment.  It's a very strange new way to live and frankly, I'm not all that sure that I like it.

Back to the little story.......So, off I went, calendar in hand, to the Comune, the center of the city.  Surely, there would be a post office in vicino.  Certainly, one was not visible. After spotting a traffic officer, I asked, in my finest Italian, directions to the post office.  Now, there is an unwritten rule in Italy. Everything is within walking distance, no problem, dritto....straight ahead, under two arches, turn left and up the stairs.  Grazie.

As I paraded along, very proud of my ability to ask and receive directions, I kept reviewing the route until I did what I usually do, I forgot what he said.  Hey, it was a long walk. I finally arrived at the staircase and ascended.  This does not look like a post office, it looks like a bus stop and maybe the sign that read "Posta" means "place where buses park when not in use".  I was looking for L'ufficio Postale, not a bus warehouse.  So, down the stairs, back on the sidewalk and up the hill where I once again asked for directions.  Back down the hill, first turn on the right.  Finally, I was there.  At the sign that said "Posta" and the building that looked like anything but.  By now, I had logged on another half mile.

If you spend any time in Italy, you understand the term "Italian Time".  It simply means that the Italians have their own time and most of the time, it wildly differs from "your" time.
It didn't hurt to know this when I approached the window, the only window that was for postal business.  The others belonged to a bank where customers were experiencing their own version of Italian Time.  Nobody in any particular hurry there.

As I walked up to  the postal window, the clerk, who was sorting mail and placing pieces, one by one, in wall slots informed me that it would be "cinque minuti" so I took my place at the head of the line and waited, and waited and did some more waiting.  Other postal patrons entered.  I held my place.  To each I turned and said "cinque minuti" until finally, maybe fifteen minutes later, my turn came.

For some reason, I the new "Post Mistress of Assisi" have some doubts about that calendar arriving much before the start of the new year.  After all, it was mailed in Italian Time and will arrive, in Italian Time.

Cinque Minuti!

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