Wednesday, August 9

I need valium?

Four American tourists marched into the boutique. They did not aknowlege me. The women started violently rifling through the clothes in a way that made me fear for the safety of the items. The men, sweating heavily made themselves comfortable on the sofa.

“PUCCI?” asked one woman rather loudly, holding up a bikini, looking in my direction, but not at me.
“Yes” I answered.
“REAL?” she wanted to know, loudly.
“Yes, real,” I replied, wondering if she could atually string two words or more together.
“SALE?” She yelled. I hesitated, slightly shocked that she considered it normal to yell one word questions at people like that.
“SALDO?” She tried in Italian, badly. She pronounced is 'soldow'.
“Yes,” I replied in my best English accent, “there is a discount of 40% on all clothes.”
She didn't make any sign to show that she had heard or understood me, so I sat down behind the counter.

One of the men heaved himself off the sofa and came over, holding out a bottle of water.
“Aqua?” He said to me.At least he wasn't shouting.
“Yes,” I replied, “aqua.”
“No,” he said, a bit louder. “Aqua...water..” he made a drinking motion with his hand. I watched, trying to figure out what he was trying to tell me.
“Aqua, yes, is water.” I told him.
“Aw, shit!” he said, slamming his meaty hand down on the counter top, “she doesn't understand me!” He told the others.

“ Well, if you asked me properly, instead of one word at a time, I might be able to help,” I piped up.
“ You speak English?”He asked me, doubtfully.
“ What do you think we're talking in? I obviously speak English much better than you do, look I can string a whole sentance together without shouting!”
They didn't find that funny.

“Ooooh, look who's feisty!” jeered the woman, reminding me vividly of the stereotype bitchy schoolgirl from any 1980's American highschool film.
They started stalking out the shop,telling me that I was very rude and, so had lost their custom.
“Thank god,” I muttered, just a bit too loudly on purpose.

For some reason they all banged on the window at me as they went past, whether to frighten me or to attempt to break the glass, I don't know. I dismissed the incident, until five minutes later when they were back. Another loud bang on the window. I looked up, the woman was standing there, hands spread on the glass, leering at me. Now what does she want? I thought to myself. She came to the doorway, and yelled at the top of her foghorn voice, “YOU NEED TO GET SOME VALIUM!”

I wish I could have replied with a smart cut down, but she was already prancing away. I yelled out,“You need to get a life!” But, I was left unsatisfied, sure if I could have had a few seconds longer, I would have found something much wittier to yell at her.

I picked up a cloth and some spray and started cleaning away the sweaty handprints on the windowpane...


  1. why does this sound so familiar to me...

  2. Believe ME , there is someone who can perfectly understand you !
    My patience is Huge, but in your case a "VAFFANCULO" would have come out my mouth!
    Uhm..........we would need a GUN and not a Valium if all customers were all like the ones you experienced , and there's a lot of them around this year!
    LOAD , AIM , FIRE !!.......and , please ,make sure none of them survived !

  3. Uhm, I don't know what to say either.

    Oh, yes I do! I happen to have a bottle of valium right here at my desk...shall I send it your way? ;-)

  4. Oh geezus, I'm sorry!
    I would have had some choice words too!

    Dickhead would have been a nice start!

  5. sounds like SHE's the one who needed some f***ing valium! you've got some patience, i would've told them off after 3 seconds, zero tolerance for annoyingness! i cannot bear tourists/people like that. they are hideous & embarrassing. don't hold it against the rest of us normal non-obnoxious americans (=

  6. Ah, the perfect retort would have been any sentence, delivered with passion and disdain in Italian. Even if you had complimented their appearance or wished them long and happy lives, in their imagination it could only have been a horrible and frustratingly indecipherable insult.

  7. Unfortunately, I know exactly the type of American's you're talking about, having lived in LA. It also makes you understand why the gun-related homicide rate in the States is something like 100x greater than every other developed country. It's a strange place.

    Having a number of American friends and I can say there are a lot of really nice people over there. However, they don't seem to be the ones running the country or that you hear about in the media.

  8. Maybe I am too patient, but some years ago I would have gone mad at them. Life would be fun though if could really say what I wanted to all the rude customers and throw them out the shop whenever I felt like it! Kali- no thanks!

  9. HAAAHAHA Niki that reminds me when i worked at an internet cafe in italy and americans tried to talk to me in one word frases when i spoke back they marveled at my excellent english... AMMM YEAH I ShOULD HOPE SO! I'M AMERICAN TOO!

    good for you that you didnt pay attention

  10. I love it when lost tourists stop me on the street and skeptically ask "English?" It's fun to dazzle them with my language skills... in my native language.

    Thank goodness I have yet to encounter freaks like those, though. Was he trying to get you to drink from his dirty water bottle or something? Freaky! I think I need a valium after reading this story...

  11. I got angry just reading that. Wow!

  12. Ugh, reason #1 I hate working in tourist places. Some (like us :D) are great, but others can just be so rude and annoying. Good for you for doing what you did! It always amazes me how they assume that no one can understand them.

    ale's comment reminds me of when in milan i had a lost american stop and ask me for directions, as there was a strike going on that day and thus no buses going. After about 10 minutes of showing her the route over and over again on a map, and ensuring her that it was no more than a 15 min walk away, she complemented me on how great my english was!

  13. That is beyond strange. Way, way beyond strange.

  14. I read your post a week ago, and I've been pondering it ever since. It occurs to me that these people came into the store already mad and frustrated by something else -- and you ended up being the focus for a hissyfit. I'm not excusing them, I'm just trying to suss out their motivation. On the whole, it is in your honour that you kept so calm (even if you were seething inside). It's better to not sink as low anyway, and anger only begets more of the same.

  15. i work in a tourist office in italy every summer and i ll tell you something the woman was right, at the end of the day you do need a couple of valiums! i experience the same stuff in the office: tourists dont greet you, they grab anything they can get their hands on and treat us a 3rd world country. where did i park my car? why was the bus late? why are the shops closed on sunday, i need a pair of armani jeans badly! why isnt the ballet in tscherman? the moaning and groaning is nerve wrecking! my sympathy

  16. In about a week, I'll be in Positano for the 1st time and can't wait. If I ever behave as most tourists do, please just shoot me on the spot! BTW, I love your site! :-)


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