Monday, April 19, 2010

Italian (lack of) tact

I'm sure I've touched on this topic before, but I was smacked upside the head by it the other day and feel the need to share it with you all.

I had been working from home on the translation of a very difficult Italian documentary, I miraculously and stylishly (yes, I'm allowed to pat myself on the back now and again) finished it and sent it to the office. The next day the director calls me to thank me- wowsers! She was immensely grateful because she herself understood how complex the topic was and how tricky it was to condense it all into fluid subtitles. She and I had a friendly chat and she said she hoped we could work together again. Great!

A few days ago, I was at the dreaded Tiburtina office (not because I dislike the office itself, I just despise the commute) and lo and behold, said director is there. She had some adjustments to make to the documentary so they call me in. I introduce myself and she looks at me with total shock on her face and says: "You're ___? But you're just a ragazzina, I thought you were much older".
BOOM, how's that for class and tact?! Really, lady? Do you have no control over what comes out of your mouth? You really think that's an appropriate thing to say in a professional setting? Plus, if homegirl had been 80 years old, I might be able to understand her shock, but at most she was in her 50s… and since I'm in my mid 30s, I'm not really sure what the big deal is.
I politely smiled and said: "Well, looks can be deceiving. I am older than I look" (and mind you, that day I just happened to be dressed more "formally"- which means I wasn't wearing a t-shirt and jeans so I looked a bit more adult-like) to which, Miss Tact replied: "But still, I never imagined you would be a ragazzina" and carried on mumbling and bumbling, almost horrified by this discovery.
I just found it so rude, inappropriate, and unnecessary for her to make a huge verbal ordeal about my age and what she thought it should/would be. So in her mind, in order to be professional or capable, one has to be an octogenarian?
Not to mention it's downright wrong to address physical appearances at all in a work setting. If I had rolled up in a wheelchair would she have said: "Oh, from your voice it didn't sound like you were in a wheelchair". If I were fat would she have said: "Oh, I never imagined you'd be so fat"... I think you get my point, making comments of this sort is flat-out stupid. Not to get all gung-ho American on you, but it's something I've encountered many times in Italy. That's not to say coworkers don't comment on my age in the States, they do and they have BUT never upon first meeting me! If they do mention it, it happens after we get to know each other or after we've been working together for a while. I find Italians to be seriously lacking in basic workplace etiquette. In the US, you never know who you're dealing with so you tend to watch your words. You don't know if you're standing face to face with the next creator of Google or Facebook, or some genius graphic designer, or some musical prodigy, or some billionaire so you avoid dumb-ass assumptions and generalizations in the workplace. While Italians tend to be very judgemental and very image-biased in the workplace. It's a country where the way you look seems to be more important than what you're actually capable of. Maybe this explains why the country is stagnating instead of progressing....

Thursday, April 8, 2010

"We delivery"

The other day I was feeling immensely lazy and had no desire to cook, nor did I have any desire to eat any of the limited delivery options (pizza, pizza, and more pizza) available in Rome, so I started thinking: Why hasn't delivery become common in Rome? To be honest, even take-out isn't that easy since many restaurants don't have the proper containers for transporting food. I vividly recall a disastrous experience with Chinese take-out: I learned soy sauce stains do not wash out easily.
I can understand if we were in the 1960s, when most people ate home-cooked meals with their families so the idea of take-out or delivery was outrageous, but nowadays Italians (and non-Italians who live here) eat all kinds of things, including pre-prepared foods, frozen meals, etc. So why hasn't delivery caught on? I mean, we even have scooters here so it's not about the actual transportation (those poor NYC delivery guys have to use bicycles). Why is it that they only deliver pizza (and shitty pizza, to boot)? Why haven't restaurants realized the fortune they could make by delivering? I cannot, for the life of me, understand why!

Flaminia Computer

I'm a veteran Apple user: the first computer I ever touched (in high school) was an Apple, the first computer I ever purchased was an iBook, and I am planning on getting an iPhone soon. I'm completely loyal to them and I'm just as loyal to the amazing peeps at Flaminia Computer (run by the Bagnetti family). These guys are top notch: best customer service, amazing help desk/repair center, they're pleasant, efficient, wonderful in every sense, and they speak English to boot.
If you're looking to buy a Mac, I highly suggest going to see them. As we know, Macs cost what they cost, there are no discounts to be had BUT these guys take good care of you, help you when you're in trouble, and I recently discovered they also offer free lessons for new Mac users!! Pure awesomeness.

Flaminia Computer
Via Flaminia 387
00196 Roma
TEL: 06.4543.9818 r.a.
FAX: 06.3211.1264
Lun–Ven: 9:00-13:30 15:00-19:00
Sabato: 9:30-13:30