Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Brutta figura


When I hopped on the 46 bus the other day, I noticed two Indian tourists (middle aged husband & wife) trying to get info from the bus driver. I was at the back of the bus but I could hear the driver rudely yelling at them as they held out a map to him with confused faces. It was clear they were trying to ask him how to get somewhere but he was being impatient and condescending, and although they didn't understand his words (one example: "Ma che cazzo vogliono questi!" "What the fuck do these folks want!"), they did understand that he was being rude.

I was about to intervene (I know, I just can't help myself) but we were at my stop so I got off and signalled to the tourists to get off with me. They followed my lead and as the bus was about to pull away, I did a hand gesture that more or less meant "ignore that dumb bus driver" (somewhat of a downward hand wave). He saw it and obviously had a guilty conscience because he stopped the bus and opened the front doors to shout at us saying "I don't know what the hell they were asking me, it's not my fault I don't speak English"... Of course it's not your fault dickhead, but if they are holding out a map to you pointing to "Trastevere", you can tell them they're going in the wrong direction without speaking a word of English, just use the universal hand-gesture language. Essentially, this is what I said to him (minus the dickhead part) and who knew it would trigger a verbal brawl between me & the driver! The Indians stood behind me, frightened and appalled by this scene. The driver kept yelling at them and at me, it was so ridiculous I almost started laughing. He kept going on and on, so I called him a "cafone" (boor) and told him to get moving because he was holding up traffic. I realize these bus drivers make shit for pay and navigate obscene traffic all day in buses that often don't have air conditioning, but come on... there's no need to be that obnoxious to tourists who are clearly clueless. He doesn't have to help them but there's no reason to yell and berate them.

He finally pulled away after spewing out a few more swears at us, so I was able to give these people directions. The woman hugged me and thanked me profusely for helping them. They may not understand Italian but they understood what had happened and were pretty upset by it. Che brutta figura for Rome. You know, tourism is this city's bread and butter, they really need to start paying more attention to how tourists are treated because stuff like this can come back and bite you in the ass.

13 comments:

erin :: the olive notes said...

yay! it must have been such a relief for that couple to have had help from you. You are a bella figura for Rome.

Jessica_in_Rome said...

Good for you for sticking up for the tourists and telling the bus driver to shove it. Complaints I have heard from tourists in rome seem to be getting more negative..it is worrying.

Ms. Violetta said...

Thank goodness there are people like you around to help out. There is nothing worse than to be in another country, lost, tired and faced with boorish attitudes.
At the Rome train station, I asked at the Information desk for help figuring which train to take to Bolzano. (It made no sense to me) The woman looked at me curtly and replied, "Just get ON!" I later on found some kind travellers who got me to the correct train.

Rose in Cali said...

THANK YOU for sticking up for the tourists. It will come back to you for sure. I've been that tourist so now I help out whenever tourists in SF ask me for help.

Leanne in Italy said...

I must admist that I don't like to help tourist - it is my job so I have to help *MY* guests but I get sick of helping every other person in town.
I often wear a uniform and I get stopped on every street corner by tourists shoving maps in my face. Most of the time they do not kindly ask for my help but demand it. They hardly ever say thanks. Yesterday at my bus stop I was stopped by 2 lots of tourists at the same time, who then started to argue who was the first to ask me a question. Leave me alone! I am not rude to them (like the bus driver) but if someone asks you a thousand times a day you get sick of helping them.

Anonymous said...

GOOD FOR YOU!!

Cursing at someone who can't understand is so cowardly and rude. What a dickhead, indeed!

Nancy - Girl in Giro said...

Yup, just like Venice. People are so frighteningly rude and their livelihood depends upon tourism. Don't they get it?!

Monika said...

You have got guts girl! I LOVE IT!!!
There's just no excuse for bad behaviour like that.

Romerican said...

Erin- I've traveled enough to know how it feels when you're lost and need someone to point you in the right direction, so I don't mind helping when I can. Plus I do believe in karma =)

Jessica- I think tourist service providers are becoming more & more disgruntled because their pay sucks and they're taking it out on the tourists. Not good at all!

Ms. V- Some of those "information" desks are anything but informative. What's annoying is they actually get paid to do that job but barely do it!

Rose-Prego! When I can help out, I do.

Leanne- I can understand how annoying that must be. Quite frankly, some tourists are really dumb & annoying BUT I still think there are ways and ways of dealing with that. Yelling or being rude makes no sense, service providers can simply say "Sorry, can't help you". the end. I worked with tourists too and it can be VERY frustrating when people are clueless and demanding, I know.

anon- yeah, I'm sure if two blonde swedish tourists were asking for help, he would have been VERY accommodating!

Nancy- Right? I mean these cities depend on tourist $$$, they'd better wake up and soon. Now that people have less money to spend, they are picking and choosing their vacation spots more carefully...

Monika- Thanks =)

Anonymous said...

ain't that the truth! (about if the tourists were blonde he would've been nice). last time i was in vegas, the card table manager was rude to EVERYONE... until two pretty girls (who were obviously repulsed by him) sat at the table... dickheads.. all around the world...

marktheromantim said...

Bus drivers usually are very helpful.
Surely not in this particualr case you have mentioned.
Their wages aren't an excuse as they earn 1100 up to 1900 euro a month after tax so it's not excellent money but not bad at all.

Romerican said...

Marktheromantim
You sure about that amount? I recall hearing/reading that they make something like 800-900 euro a month, in fact most of their strikes are salary-based.

deaintheraw said...

I hate to say this as it may sound condescending and mean, but after having lived in Italy for 6 years, I realize that lots of people here, and not just in Rome are just plain dumb and ignorant.
While back home its possible to shield oneself from low lives and scumbags, Italy is different and they are everywhere. I am from DC and live in Sicily, I just freeze them out of my life. Good for you for helping/saving the Indian tourists, I would have done the same thing :) xo Dea