Merry Christmas from Rome

24 Dec

Just in case you were worried, I want to reassure you that the Christmas spirit, Roman style, is alive and well around these parts.

How do I know this? Let me count the ways.

This morning, as I (stupidly) was entering my neighborhood supermarket, I passed by a 40-something woman getting into her car, screaming the following festive words of greeting at the top of her lungs:

“And let me tell you something, I’d beat you up right now if it wasn’t for the fact that it’s Christmas!!! And also because I respect that you’re an old lady!”

Awwwwww. Doesn’t it just warm your heart? Me too.

But wait! There’s more!

As I was waiting in the (unending ridiculously long God help us all) line to pay for my meager purchases, I observed the following holly jolly scene:

Man hands teenage cashier a 20 euro bill to pay for his groceries. The total is €4.92.

Cashier, who BTW has a santa hat stuffed into her jeans pocket (scrooge!) with air of extreme displeasure: [distinct irritated sighing noise] “Don’t you have a 5?”

***here I must interject, once and for all, that I continue to not understand the above-mentioned problem with changing money here in Rome (kindly refer to number 5). Why, oh why, must we pay for our things coming as close as humanly possible to the exact display on the register? What is this strange phenomenon, I ask you!? Are there not banks in Rome? Is this a frickin’ TV game show? Whoever has exact change wins the prize? AAARRRGH. ***

Man and wife begin to search pockets and wallets for coins. Man looks in wallet and begins counting. 1, 2… wife opens wallet, finds 50 cents.

People. It does not take a rocket scientist to deduce that this is not efficiency’s finest moment of glory.

However, it does not stop our cashier from continuing to insist. As we all wait in anxious anticipation for the aforementioned 4 euros and 92 cents to magically manifest.

Man finds total of 5 euros in coins. Presents to cashier with a pithy “I hope you’re happy now.”

When it came my turn, she turns to her friend cashier next to her and says: “Can you believe that guy? ‘I hope you’re happy.’ What nerve! He should talk! Trying to pay for a 4,92 purchase with a 20 euro bill! I mean come on!”

Apparently this is not the Christmas spirit, to pay like this. I pay with my ATM card, hand trembling, but do not receive any reprimands. Yay.

Oh, by the way? I bought a gift today in a shop that cost €8. “Can I pay with my credit card?” say I. This is what we like to call a RHETORICAL QUESTION. Or at least that is what I considered it to be, until I got the response: “For 8 euro? Um, no. No. Not for 8 euro. Sorry.”

Fa la la la la, la la la LAAAAAAA!!!!!

Merry Christmas to all, and to all, a pocketful of exact change!

PS A dear reader with an astute eye, who I shall refer to simply as “Big Cat” (you have a code name now! so cool!) took some photographic evidence for me last night which demonstrates that “Yankee Candles” are now available for gift-giving to one and all here in Rome. BTW, I am so loving the tagline on their website: “America’s best loved candle.[tm]” (Yes, this is a trademarked phrase. So don’t try to steal it.) Now. I understand the problems inherent in claiming to be America’s best candle; clearly this would be quite difficult to prove. But, America’s best LOVED candle? Is this substantiated? I personally do not love paying $25 a jar for scents like “Nature’s Paintbrush” or “Raindrops on Roses,” however delightful they may be. But this is because I am a cynical, cold and heartless woman. You, however, may not be like me and therefore you can be comforted by the knowledge that a vacation to Rome can also include these scents:

Grazie gattone 😉


4 Responses to “Merry Christmas from Rome”

  1. Lara December 25, 2011 at 1:43 am #

    This was so funny to me. During my time in Northern Italy, I noticed the same tendency for salespeople to ask to the coins to make the amount a bit rounder. I just guessed the EU wasn’t minting enough coins. But it is very different than the US, where if you do try to dig up the right change, you are holding up the line and may get a similar kind of flak!

  2. LC January 1, 2012 at 8:06 pm #

    OH MY G……..

    Don’t even get me started on Yankee Candles… my daughter gave me one of these
    I believe it was described as lavender on the jar , lavender ok? one of THE most natural and distinctive smells on the planet or so you would think. I cannot tell you how utterly synthetic and awful it was, the disappointment was profound made more so as my daughter was there when we lit it in gleeful anticipation , at twelve she already knows her own mind (and nose) so we both realised that whatever Yankee are bottling in there, it sure as hell ain’t nothing nature how!!!

    I can only wonder in terror what the unsuspecting person will make of Nature’s Paintbrush!!….

  3. Francesca Maggi January 24, 2012 at 1:39 pm #

    I actually have an excerpt in my book about the ‘Cashier’s Curse’ entitled Short Changed…!
    I believe it all comes down to the fact that no one (stores, taxis, post offices) stock up on the change rolls each morning…as a result, they count on shaking down their clients to top up the drawers…Of course, the lines at the post office are “a waste of time” but so is the non-productivity of the wait for change…

    Such a waste of time, that one should always always even if the person in front of you has 300 items in the cart go to the shorter-number-of-people line vs. shorter number of objects line. Imagine: those 6 people with only 3 items each will spend an extra 20 minutes digging in their coat linings to cough up the correct change.


  4. Kelly February 8, 2012 at 2:36 pm #

    ha ha ha! So true. I think that Italy doesn’t actually print enough money, at least that’s what everyone told me when I dared broach the subject. (they especially need fives?!) Here in Rome I thought they were a lot better (the above scene has only happened to me in Florence and it’s ridiculous!), but alas..

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