Thursday, 24 March 2011

Fratelli d'Italia pt. 4

Bus timetable 1.43Image by marc e marc via FlickrI'm on a roll, and these ones shouldn't take me too long.
  • Banks - I often felt that in England, the banks were rather lacklustre in their customer service. I worked all week, and had the day off on Saturday. Why did they usually close early? So I wasn't too pleased to find that it's even worse here. They mostly seem to be open in the morning even on weekdays and I think some days they're just closed, like bars. Bloody skivers. One time I had a cheque to pay in, so I had to pop in before going to work; how rubbish is that? I seem to recall hearing that Italian bank charges are among the worst, if not the worst, in Europe. Service please.
  • Tobacconists - This one's not annoying, just intriguing. Where do you go to buy bus tickets? Why, the tobbaconist's of course. Silly me for not thinking of that.
  • Prices at bars - I was opining about this one at work the other day. You can never see the prices in Italian bars. They're legally required to display them I think, but basically they're usually "on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying 'Beware of the Leopard'." What I don't get is why. Surely a bar with reasonable prices which advertised them better would get more customers. No?
  • Display of opening hours - It happens that since I made a note to write about this, I've seen a lot more opening hours, but still - quite a lot of the time you have to guess when shops/offices are going to open. For a native it's not too hard to guess, unless they're gratuitously unpredictable (and sometimes they are: mon-wed-fri in the morning and tue-thu in the afternoon with 2 hours on sat for special appointments, for example), but even then there's usually a margin of about an hour where you're not sure when you should go out. Is it too much like hard work to put a sign up?
  • Bus timetables - I'm a graduate. I find it hard to understand Italian bus timetables. They seem principally to be composed of a highly detailed grid of exceptions (not on holiday, mon-fri only, mon-sat only, only during term time, not from june-august). There's very little regularity, so every stop has an individual entry (not like the summary "every 1hr" kind of thing you get in Blighty), making the visual prospect quite daunting from the get go. They tend to be geared towards schoolchildren, so you have buses every 5 minutes in the morning and every once in a blue moon during the day. If you ask the little old ladies who populate Italian bus stops if they know what's going on, they'll tell you it's a mystery to them as well. No wonder everyone drives everywhere. I seem to remember that Thatcher woman justifying cuts in the public transport budget by suggesting that if you see a man on a bus over the age of 14, you're looking at a failure. Very Italian.
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