Monday, July 16, 2007

Roman one-upism



In a city that’s famous for its "dolce vita" and mellow attitude, I’m always slightly surprised to see such ruthless behavior. Yeah, I’m talking about Rome… It’s not the same sort of ruthless behavior one might encounter in the workplace in NYC, it’s a different breed that’s mixed with furbizia (slyness/cleverness) and arrogance.
Italians are very fond of furbizia, oftentimes it’s considered more of a compliment than an insult. I myself am also a fan of furbizia, BUT orderly furbizia, not chaotic furbizia. What’s the difference you ask? I’ll explain using Rome as the case in point.

Lines: Romans think they’re being clever when they cut or try to cut the line. They’re not, they’re merely wasting more time by creating chaos and disruption and by causing a standstill. This can escalate in places like the post office or ASL (public health clinics) and involve many people including the workers who then have to act as referees. I can’t even begin to count the number of times I’ve had to say “Excuse me, I was here first”, and trust me, I'm one of those people who will say it! What makes these people think they have the right to be so overbearing? Why do they consider themselves above the rules? Do they think they’re that much more important or crafty than the rest of us schmucks? (*note: I’m not referring to the elderly, handicapped, or pregnant women who might ask to cut ahead for obvious reasons)

Driving: Romans think they’re being sly when they pass other cars on tight streets while trying to get ahead, when they speed through a yellow-turning-red light only to end up blocking the box, when they double-park or park in illegal spots, but they’re not. They’re just creating more traffic, more blockage and more annoyance. Buses and trams get stuck because some assclown felt he/she had every reason to double-park on a tiny street to go yap it up with a friend at the bar, or because another assclown felt he/she just had to go through that intersection without considering the consequences of blocking the box.

Public Transportation: Romans think they’re cunning when they try to push their way into a bus/tram before the passengers have exited, but they’re not! They’re just slowing down the whole exit/enter process and creating annoyance. This is especially frustrating when the bus/tram is clearly not full, hence there will be seats for everybody. So why o why must they shove and elbow their way in? Because they want to pick a specific seat? Or simply because they’re rude?

These three examples pretty much sum up what I call Roman one-upism. The question that always comes to my mind is: Do you really think you’re that clever? But above all, do you really think the rest of us are that stupid and oblivious? If they really were clever, they would manage to be sneaky without anyone else noticing and without creating chaos or disruption. There’s nothing wrong with being resourceful or clever, but this kind of furbizia is, in my opinion, just rude, inconsiderate, and uncivilized.

14 comments:

KC said...

Great post. The line cutting, especially at the doctor's office or labs, drives me crazy. I don't think they try it because they think they're sly- I think the people who do it just feel that they are more important than everyone else and are entitled to go first. My husband calls such people padroni. (I call them assholes.)

Kataroma said...

I had my first experience waiting in an ASL office recently (I had to get a blood test.) We all had numbers and were patiently waiting out turn but two different people just got up, out of turn, and headed to the door where the tests were being done. Everyone shouted at them but they just did it anyway. I guess the only way to have stopped them would be to physically restrain them or if the nurses had intervened.

One of them, as she got up, said "I have to get to work" as if this justified her behaviour. So what about the rest of us poor schmucks - we have jobs too!

As you say - not furbo just selfish.

Romerican said...

sorry to hear you ladies have both dealt with this crap too. padroni, assholes & selfish are all very appropriate terms... unfortunately!

sognatrice said...

I'm pretty lucky to be in a small place where these things (and I do think it's just rudeness) really don't happen a lot--we have a lot of old people who simply won't stand for it. As soon as someone even inches toward getting in front of someone else, there's usually a Nonna ready to pounce--I've had older women stick up for me before I could even open my mouth. The closer I get to our "city" though, the more I notice this kind of stuff. The bus thing is just ridiculous, but I notice it's usually the really young and the really old that do it. The former out of rudeness, I'd say, the latter probably out of fear for not getting a seat b/c they can't possibly know if those whippersnappers will give theirs up for them. Kids, I say curmudgeonly ;)

The crazy driving, though, is everywhere (more pronounced in places like Naples, Rome) but what I can't figure out is this: Italians are always in such a hurry to get somewhere, making new lanes on the road, etc., but then when they get to wherever it is they're going, they...do...what...? Never in a hurry to actually *do* anything. Very odd ;)

Roam 2 Rome said...

Aaaa i furbi! Sognatrice is right, mainly in smaller towns people wouldn't stand for it! Though most places I went where there are larger numbers of people, there they go! ..."Vincono i furbi, e perdiamo noi tutti!"

Ambra Celeste said...

Wow! You could be describing all my neighbors here in Torino. What is up with all this rudeness? I keep hearing that Italians are "colder" up north, I am actually kind of surprised to hear it is this way in Rome.

Calabrisella said...

gah!
come odio questo!
that is one more reason i say myself never to live in Roma!
it is like capitals(Roma, Bs.As.,Paris,London, Brazilia, Athens,etc.)are all very similar... in that sence...

:-/

Kataroma said...

Actually, Calabrisella, while you may see less of this in small towns since it just isn't possible when you know everyone - I don't see it as a big city thing at all. I've always lived in big cities (New York and Sydney which are both bigger than Rome) and never before have I seen anyone cut in line at a health clinic! Especially that blatantly. Also, in both NY and Sydney cars actually stop for pedestrians at crossings - something which is really rare here.

Unfortunately, I think it's an Italian thing. :(

Calabrisella said...

Ciao Romerican...
i posted the recipe (Fichi Ripieni alla Calabrese) for you!

Kataroma... we all share different experiences and different perceptions ...i see it in big cities...such as, the ones i named previously...you may not... and that is your opinion..

bacioni a tutti!

Michellanea said...

My favorite is when someone is about to cut in front of you obviously (like when I'm in an orderly line with my shopping cart and someone comes and wedges his shopping cart in at an angle ready to cut in front of me when the line moves) and you say "C'ero prima io" and they make this whole scene like "Well, by all means! I'm not really sure who was here first but if Lei says she was here first and is so upset about it, go right ahead! Prego, prego!" Now THAT is furbo. Basically, I'm in the right but the person makes me look like an uptight psycho.

Caroline in Rome said...

I can relate to your post. I think it's just a culture where people care about themselves, their family and maybe some close friends and that is it. No one else counts so there is no consideration for others. Very different from the French who go out of their way to show manners (also very annoying at times, trust me) and who engrain manners in children from a young age.

Calabrisella said...

HAha! i thought of you today...and your post on careless dog owners...

_i was driving from work this morning...going 25mph, minding my own business...when suddenly ... two dogs (a chiwawa and a bulldog)run on to the street...I SLAM on my brakes!!!!
and guess what!?... no leash!!!!
then the owner ( a shirtless big bellied grouch) yells at me by calling me inconsiderate
....because im driving on the street... and him and his dogs are j-walking...
i just started laughing! what else can you do...

Romerican said...

calabrisella, yeah i'm sure there are lots of inconsiderate dog people worldwide but i know for a fact that in america, dog owners are HELD responsible for any accidents their pets might cause. obviously, i'd prefer NOT to be attacked by a dog, but if does happen, at least in america i'd be properly compensated for it whereas here in italy- i have spent time & my OWN money to "sue" the owner of the dog that attacked me, and i've yet to receive a cent and probably won't... so it's not really the same thing.
point being= there are stupid, ignorant, rude people everywhere but at least in some countries there are laws that penalize such people and more importantly, these laws are enforced and respected by the general public.

Brendan said...

The other day, at the Post Office, of course, I am pressing the button to get a number (the thing that is supposed to make it so queue problems are avoided) and some SOB is reaching over my shoulder pushing another button. I turn around and say "excuse, might you wait 1 second for my number to come out before pushing yours?" and the guy looks at me like I am from another planet. This kind of childish behavior will definitely not be on my list of things I am going to miss about Italy.