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Public Offices in Rome – Gli Uffici Pubblici a Roma

21 Oct

Clicca qui per l’italiano

Well, folks, it’s been what—4 months now—that I’ve been back living in the Eternal City, and so it was only a matter of time before I started to rag on the public bureaucrazy. I tell you what, public offices in Rome are truly a never-ending source of amusement and bewilderment for me, no matter how many years I live here (this is year number 8, by the way).

Perhaps this is a universal phenomenon about government-run offices. I’ve seen it in the States, too. Just not at this level of refinement and quantity. The signs. The handmade, Word-generated, taped-up-to-the-walls-with-Scotch-tape signs. Oh, the signs! The ripped, crumpled, torn at the edges signs! The ALL IN CAPS WITH EXCLAMATION POINTS GALORE SIGNS!!!!

Yesterday I was at my local neighborhood city records office, and, unfortunately I didn’t take a picture of one of the best examples of these, because I’ve grown so used to it. The plain-paper Word doc taped about every two inches of wall space, beseeching the people to: PLEASE!!! BE QUIET!!! WE WORK BETTER IN SILENCE!!!

Oh, love.

But this one I had to photograph, I tell you what. A work of literary genius, IMHO. As I’m waiting at my window for my lovely employee to appear and tell me why I can’t do what I’ve come to do (that’s their job, you know), I start reading this, a somber and sober plea for understanding and compassion:

2011-10-20 14.59.39

I realize this may not be funny or amusing or even relevant to anyone who has no experience with Roman or Italian public offices. Those who do, however, I believe will have a little ha-ha moment of knowing. Here’s what it says:

We would like to inform our kind clientele that, due to a serious lack of personnel, we are forced to deliver our services to a reduced number, or, in any case, to a number that corresponds to the amount of personnel we have on hand.

We assure you that there’s no other way we can do this, even though we realize this creates problems for you.

We apologize for the inconvenience and we’re sorry that we can’t make everyone happy.

We invite you to not ask to see a Manager to complain, because there’s no way to change this situation, since, as we already mentioned, this situation is out of our hands.

Thank you for your understanding.

[stamped, signed, officialized, etc. etc. etc. etc.]

The best part is where they tell you not to ask to see a manager. I love it! They’re like, people, really? You still think that asking for a manager is going to do something? Pshaw!

After the office, I went to the supermarket. I saw lane 2 had its light on, and a cashier walked over to the register. No one was in line there so I walked over. Another cashier walks up and yells at me, “That lane isn’t open!” (There’s this tone that Italian grocery store cashiers here have to master, I think they do it in their orientation. I think the teacher says something like, “And, whatever you do, please, please make sure you always make the shopper feel like the biggest idiot in the world, for everything. That’s rule number 1. Remember that basically you can’t stand to work here, and you need to communicate that to every customer, it’s part of our package of superior service, every time.”)

Me: “Um, ok. I saw the light on. I saw the other cashier come here.”

Her: “Well! It’s not open!”

Me: laughing “Ok, ok!” (Geez!)

So I go wait in another line. Turns out it’s the “bad line.” You know the one. The one where the person in front of you has some kind of quirky thing that’s going to mess up the whole rhythm of the cashier, the one where the cashier is going to look quizzically first at the register, hoping it will somehow come to life and tell her what to do next; then she’ll look at the receipt, as if somehow things don’t add up but they should; then she might glance at the customer, back to the register, back to the receipt, before asking her co-cashier, “what do I do now?” and the co-cashier says, “You have to call Lucia. But I don’t know where Lucia is right now.” Etc.

Five minutes later, Lucia shows up. Modeling perfectly the technique used on the customers to make them feel like total idiots, she scolds the cashier in front of everyone for being so dumb as to not know that she needed to ask the lady for ONE MORE TICKET (people here can pay for their groceries with food coupons they get from their employers… it’s like food stamps in a way, and always seems to clog up the system). Anyhoo, problem solved. Meanwhile, as I’m waiting, lo and behold! Another register has opened!

Lane 2. With the girl who yelled at me that it wasn’t open.

Ah, Roma, I heart you so dearly. Truly, I do.

Allora, ragazzi, siamo a—4 mesi adesso—da quando mi sono ritrasferita qui a vivere nella Città Eterna, e quindi bastava poco finchè non mi rimettevo a smadonnare per gli uffici pubblici, ovvero la buropazzia italiana. Ci vuole poco alla fine. Vi dico sinceramente, ormai mi diverto pure negli uffici pubblici, che nonostante gli anni che vivo a Roma (che ora siamo all’ottavo…) sono per me una fonte inesauribile di perplessità, aggressività repressa, e, sì, lo ammetto, delle volte spasso totale.

Ma forse ragazzi c’è un fenomeno universale negli uffici statali. Per esempio un classico che ho visto pure negli Stati Uniti è quello dei cartelli casarecci. Sapete quelli, no? Quelli fatti dagli impiegati frustrati e incazzati, digitati con furia totale in un documento Word, stampati sulla carta statale e appesi con tanta indignazione sulla parete nuda, con qualche pezzetino o mille di Scotch. O Gesù i cartelli! Strappati, vecchi, tristi, cartelli! TUTTI IN STAMPATELLO CON TANTI DI QUEI PUNTI ESCLAMATIVI CARTELLI!!!!!!!!! PER NON DIMENTICARE ANCHE IL GRASSETTO E DAI PERCHE’ NON SOTTOLINEIAMO PURE!

Ieri sono stata all’anagrafe, e, purtroppo non vi ho scattato una foto di uno degli esempi più classici di questi cartelli, probabilmente perchè mi è così comune ormai che non lo noto nemmeno più. E’ uno di quei maledetti documenti word, Times Roman, ad ogni 2 centimentri di parete bianca, esclamando, esorendo, pregando, SPRONANDO…

SILENZO PER FAVORE!!! Noi lavoriamo meglio con il silenzio. GRAZIE!!!!!!!!!

Belli. Vi voglio bene, io.

Ma ragà, c’è stato un cartello che sì che meritava la foto, che ve lo dico a fa? E’ un’opera di genio letterario totale, se mi chiedete il mio parere umile. Mentre io stavo aspettando che arivasse l’impiegata che è incaricata a dirmi per quale ragione non può fare la mia pratica (e certo che lo sapete che è quello esplicitamente scritto nel loro contratto: cercate a tutti i costi di NON lavorare–e di farlo pure in silenzio. !!!!! e poi !!!!), inizio a leggere questo sobrio cartello appiccicato alla parete, chiedendo la mia comprensione, e sì, compassione:

2011-10-20 14.59.39

La cosa più spassosa di questo cartello, secondo me, è la parte in cui dicono specificamente di NON chiedere un dirigente. Come per dire, AHO’ sentite un po’, NUN CE ROMPETE LE SCATOLE CO’ ‘STA STORIA DE “DOV’E’ IL VOSTRO DIRIGENTE?” Se non sapete già che qui nessuno lavora, mica ce volle un dirigente a dirvelo! (O qualcosa del genere, mi immagino.)

Dopo quest’esperienza esilarante al comune, vado al supermercato. Vedo cassa numero 2, con tanta di luce accesa (segnale universale per CASSA APERTA) con una cassiera che si avvicina lì alla cassa. Un’altra cassiera si avvicina a me e mi fa, “SIGNORA!!! MA NON E’ MICA APERTA QUELLA CASSA, EH?!” (Sapete quel tono delle cassiere nel supermercato italiano? Credo faccia parte del loro corso di orientamento. La capa-cassiera gli fa “Allora, se non vi ricordate niente di quello che vi ho insegnato, allora ricordatevi almeno questo: IL CLIENTE NON HA MAI RAGIONE. Anzi, il vostro compito qui al nostro supermercato è di far sentire il cliente un verme, un ignorante, un… insomma. Ricordatevi semplicemente che se non ci fosse per il cliente, voi non avrete così tanto una giornata merdosa. Basta. Ora, andate! E sfogatevi tutti su i nostri clienti!” O qualcosa del genere, mi immagino.)

Io: “Ah. E’ solo che… ho visto la luce accesa…insomma…”

Lei: “Emmbè? Non è aperta!!!”

Io: (quasi ridendo ormai al suo livello di insistenza e incazzatura) “Va bene, va bene.” UUFFFFAAAAA.

Allora vado ad aspettare all’unica cassa aperta in tutto il negozio. Dove, inevitabilmente, la signora davanti a me deve pagare con 2000 ticket, e la cassiera non sa come scaricare i ticket, perchè vedete, c’è un buono da 5 euro, ma poi, la signora deve aggiungere un altro ticket, e poi, oddio, ora si è sbagliata a fare qualcosa la cassiera, mo guarda lo scontrino, perplessa, guarda la cassa, perplessa e speranzosa che ai momenti la cassa inizia a parlare e a spiegare come sistemare tutto. Oddiooddiooddiochepallechepallechepalle.

Nel frattempo vedo l’allegra cassiera di prima, passando cliente dopo contento e aggredito cliente alla cassa due. CHAMPAGNE!

Roma, ti voglio bene, ma tanto bene, eh, non poco!

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9 Responses to “Public Offices in Rome – Gli Uffici Pubblici a Roma”

  1. LC October 21, 2011 at 1:38 pm #

    I laughed out loud , I laughed long, you have it lady right there on the button…

    I particularly loved ,and could relate, to those home made signs put up often on the spur of the moment, often handwritten. I tried every day for a a week three August’s ago to take a party of people around the Fenice (0pera House ) in Venice, it was supposed to be open, peak season for goodness sake, but every day a different handwritten scotch taped
    scruffy bit of paper ‘chiuso’… no explanation no hope of one…. just because they CAN!!

    Is it any wonder Italy’s rate of growth is only higher than that of Namibia…But we love them and continue to adore everything about them!

  2. Un'americana a Roma October 22, 2011 at 8:28 pm #

    Love. So true. Because they can! It’s like they say, tiè bastardi, che siete venuti a fà?! HAHAHAHAHAAAAA

  3. Alison Z October 24, 2011 at 3:21 pm #

    You had me laughing so hard reading this! And, you’re totally right about the supermarket employees. I get such severe anxiety when I’m waiting in line to check out because I’m positive I’m going to get screamed at for something or other. There’s no reason why buying groceries should be so stressful!!

  4. Eleonora October 24, 2011 at 7:24 pm #

    I decided to have a long run on public offices this morning, and I walked like 4 hours from office to office to have everything done…
    And I couldn’t stop thinking of your post!
    This is why I hate them so much LOL

  5. Rachel November 26, 2012 at 11:14 am #

    I totally feel your pain! I live in Malta and have had similar experiences! Oye!

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