Sunday, April 10, 2011

Missed Connections

I wish I had more exciting stuff to share sometimes. All I have now is a series of missed connections with Michael and Lewis, my visiting friends from Minneapolis. They don’t have an Italian phone and the one time Lewis tried to use a public phone it went horribly awry.

The first day here after their train ride from Rome they were in the train station trying to call their landlord and tell them they were on the way. He confidently (I assume) walked to the pay phones to make the call and that’s as far as his confidence went. He became so frustrated that he managed to pull an actual Italian into the process, a very nice man who did his best (from what Lewis says) but he was also confused by the phones. Lewis read the instructions in English, and the man read them in Italian, and between the two of them all they could do was put coins in the top and watch them come out the bottom of the phone. During this entire process the Italian man was holding his cell phone in his hand. I know because this is when I walked up to them. They had just realized that they didn’t need the pay phone…

Lewis was so excited to find an internet café across the street from the apartment. OK, excited might be putting it a little mildly. If he could have groceries, tobacco, wine and such within 20 feet (for those madly converting to meters, just a bit over 6 meters) of their front door he would be the happiest person in Florence. He e-mailed me one of the first days and that is the method we have been using for communicating. I think he may never use a public phone again after his experience in the train station.

He sent me an e-mail on Friday morning, they would like to go to a church service at 6 that I had told them about, could they come to our place around 5:30, look it over and then go to the church? I replied that coming to my house was fine, but come earlier because I live over half an hour (on foot) from the church. OR I could meet them at the Duomo, a mere 5 minutes from the church and leave our apartment for another day. But I’d be home all afternoon, come earlier if you want.

He replied (at 4:30ish (1630 for those converting to the 24 hour clock although why anyone would want to do that is beyond me)) with “we’re on our way! Well, soon anyway.” I naturally assumed they would be coming to the apartment within the hour. That is technically soon.

At five minutes to six I decided I must have misunderstood this message. I do this a lot, I read “we will” when it really says “we will not”, I don’t know why. So I ran down the stairs, hopped on my bike and rushed off to the Duomo. Yes, mom, I wore my helmet and obeyed every reasonable traffic rule. Some are just meant to be broken, that’s all. I got there about ten minutes after and loitered on the front steps of the Duomo, wheezing like an elderly race horse and probably looking like one too. It’s warm here. There was sweat. After another ten minutes I decided they probably weren’t going to show here either, so raced back home on the off chance that they were standing on my front step, ringing the bell and wondering where the hell I was. Which, dang it, they were.

When I got home at 6:35 (can you believe every light was green? Really!) they weren’t there, but there was a message on my phone. Now, there’s a lot about my phone I have figured out in the last 6 months, but how to listen to my voice mail…no. I need to figure this out. Someday someone other than Leif might call and leave a message that I will need to hear. Maybe. Luckily, Lewis leaves nothing to chance and sent me an e-mail. “Sorry we missed each other, etc, etc, but there’s a phone in this café so I’ll call you tomorrow. See you for dinner tomorrow night.”

Saturday the boys were going to host us in their apartment for dinner. I got an e-mail in the morning that they were just too, too exhausted (I believe he referred to dogs and barking) and could we do dinner another night? They needed time to prepare. I’m not sure what that means exactly, but they are on vacation and can have all the time they want. We agreed on Sunday. I realized about 9:30 last night (2130 for those still insisting on the 24 hour clock. I have to say, 2130 sounds ridiculously late) that none of the stores are open here on Sunday.

Unfortunately, while they can call me anytime the internet café is open, I can’t call them. I had to wait for Lewis’s phone call this morning to tell them that they may have to hunt far and wide for an open grocery store. Probably not something they want to do during their vacation on a lazy Sunday morning. He will call this afternoon and let me know if they ran across an open store on their rambles about town, or if we will put it off till tomorrow night. I am trying to figure out how to do the things I need to do today and still maintain constant contact with my phone so I don’t miss their call. I forgot to tell him that leaving a voice mail on my phone is like putting a message in a bottle and sending it out to sea. Maybe I’ll carry it in my bra…

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