Saturday, July 6, 2013


After visiting from Rome where she has lived for more than five decades, our dear friend S was ready to catch the train home. She had been raised in Chicago during a period when girls were supposed to be PPP--that is, Perky, Pretty, and Pleasing. Part of the permanent move to Italy was to say "BASTA!" to all that.  As a former Midwestern baby boomer, I could definitely relate to the triple P expectations S describes, but she has added a fourth P that leaves me in the dust:Punctuality.  

So when Jim said we would leave our middle-of-nowhere home (on the worst road you have ever seen) at 10:30 for her 11:20 train, S was anxiously skeptical. Jim prides himself on being a the-glass-is-half-full kind of guy, and his estimate of the half-hour trip to the station included a quick stop at Lidl to buy S a talking scale to go with the new 2-day-per-week fasting diet we are all trying.

But former PPP and now PPPP girl S would have none of it. Practical as well as punctual, she pronounced,"We need to add lots of extra time for the unforeseen 'what ifs.'" Jim poo-pooed this, but as a not entirely reformed PPP girl myself, I could see where she was coming from.

After deciding that part of being a good host includes not making your guest unduly anxious, we left early.  We had gotten about ten minutes into the trip when we came to a halt behind a giant telephone-pole-inserting truck that blocked the entire so-called road. 

Dilemma:should we turn around and take the other even worse road to the station? With their telephone pole poised above the spot where the hole would be drilled, the two workers were not in a position to move. In fact, given that the road, bordered by treacherous trenches on both sides, is barely wide enough for one small car, there was no way we were going anywhere before they finished. 

Undaunted, S hopped out of the car to discuss the situation. The gallant and good-looking guys took an instant liking to S and reassured her that their pole planting would take just ten minutes. 

Now S, who is no fool, immediately realized that these guys, like Jim, were alums of the glass-is-half-full school of thinking. Furthermore, after all, this was Umbria, ITALY, the home of Slow Cooking, where ten Italian minutes could easily mean three times that. They were SO nice and confident, but could we trust them?

While we were debating our next step, we noticed the truck backing up toward us. The proudly efficient workers had finished planting their pole and were ready to move on to their coffee break. 

Pleased as punch, PPPP S, having made two new friends, was delighted to be on her way. She was not convinced that they were actually Italian, but no matter. 

Next hurdle:would there be any left of those great scales that had been on sale last week at Lidl--the ones that talk to you in your choice of Hungarian, French, German, or Italian? SI! S got the last one.

We continued our odyssey to the station only to find that there was plenty of time for a bathroom stop, a coffee, and a chance for S to make a few more friends. How come? The train for Rome was running very late.

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