OK, so I made a mistake. After I helped our guests get money from the cash machine in town, always a challenge in a foreign land, I forgot to go back to using our Italian bank services when I needed cash, and kept hitting the button for international withdrawals, as if I weren’t now an accomplished quasi-resident with a bank account. The machine wouldn’t process an international withdrawal from my Italian bank account. But I didn’t realize it was my own fault, so I went to my bank to see if there was a problem with my card. There is but one teller at our bank, the indefatigably gracious and impossibly efficient Graziella. Given her sunny nature and dedication to the utmost professional and personal service, you can generally wait about 45 minutes for your turn to see her, even with only two people in front of you. It is, however, totally worth the wait.
When it got to my turn, we chatted effusively about the exploits of her three children. We got down to business and realized the problem– that I was pushing the wrong button on the ATM. Graziella then unwittingly confirmed my theory about how Italians deal with a problem you might be worrying about. They don’t just give you advice or brush you off if, say, your lawn mower is broken. Rather, they think long and hard about it, ask all their friends if they’ve had a similar experience, and expound broadly on possible theories for your suffering. Then they are likely to come down to your house to see your broken mower and bring their mower along to compare mechanisms. They may then take pity on an ignorant foreigner, and mow your lawn for you. They may also bring a big bag of homegrown tomatoes, or a bucket of pears or some frozen cinghiale from last fall’s hunt. But the short answer is rarely the norm.
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