Tuesday, March 25, 2014

On Italian Time
One of the things I will never get used to here in Lucca, Italy is how everyone can be late, in a rush, and also prolong things into oblivion while constantly over and under estimating the amount of time it takes for a normal person to get things done. I am living a few examples of this phenomena while we speak.

For two years I have had the idea of introducing the guy (Vladmiro) who sells genuinely Italian woven scarves of the highest quality you can imagine to our friend the interior designer (Alessandro) who sells the best materials for home furnishings that exist. Throw in our friend who does great brand marketing (another Alessandro, pazienza) and can take on F as a partner for the web site and technical side of things and you have some really high level networking. I didn't go to social work school for nothing, people. So I convince everyone it is a good idea to come to dinner. That is no problem. The problem is when.

 First off, I have to get the brand designer
to say yes because he is very busy with some important clients this month. He and his wife agree only because they really like F's cooking. I then get the interior designer who is also a foodie to agree, and now all I have to do is go back to the scarf store where the owner has already told me that he should be free. Except he throws me a curve ball and says that he does not think he is free. He does not think his business partner will ever be free and so I get the idea that this is never going to happen. Then it occurs to me that I am doing a nice thing for these people and probably won't have anything to gain by it personally (unless F somehow hit the jackpot and got a huge amount of work from his non-commital folks) so why should I go out of my way. The moment that I let go of the whole idea and said that it might be a real shame because my friends are important people with busy schedules, he called me to say that he and his partner could make it.

In our phone conversation it became clear to me that Vladmiro has no idea of how to get around Lucca and probably doesn't know how to find my apartment so I told him that I would show him my apartment on the way to introduce him quickly to Alessandro so that he could see his store. Vladmiro has many tourists who ask his advice and he could probably send Alessandro many new potential clients. He says that he thinks he could get away at 3:30. I went to his store, but he wasn't there. I left my cell phone at home so I couldn't call him. I walked home and called him and he told me that he was, as I knew he would be, at his store now. I walked back. In the end much shop talk ensued between Vladmiro and Alessandro who has already had occasion to meet Vladmiro's partner Massimo which will make the whole dinner much easier. Massimo is supposedly very poshe, and, as you know, we are very not. So that already makes dinner a bit more difficult, but at least we have a date.

The other kind of timing issue has to do with funny things like the finale of the Master Chef Italia in which the three judges send the two finalists in a limousine to the theater where they are to reveal which one of them is the winner. These otherwise dignified chefs turn into borscht belt comedians on a bad night as they have to prolong the agony of a reality show that, unlike in America, is not in a rush to get to the commercials and has an extra thirty minutes of airtime and nothing to fill it with. Here is only a fraction of the speech in which Chef Cracco, the harshest of the three critics, exacts his revenge for having to award the winner by speaking as slowly as humanly possible and allowing the contestants and audience enought time to pass a gallstone if necessary before spitting out the results.

On The Apprentice Italia they fill up the extra air time with the "Boss's" psychological and at times sartorial analysis of each of the potential new employees as he recaps everything we have already seen and heard him say in the previous episode. Here he is humiliating a contestant for the length of his suit jacket.

But The Voice Italia is my favorite because, in case you missed it, this really happened. Now that's some divine timing right there.

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