Friday, April 20, 2007


There is a butcher in one of the supermarkets who really enjoys his job: he knows everyone, flirts with all the women and he always has a smile and a joke for you. Most days I find him a tonic but I'm ashamed to say that today I got the "grumps" with him: He was serving me and discussing how I wanted the meat cut when two young women who obviously knew him interrupted to ask his advice about quantities for a barbecue they were planning. To be fair, he did say there was a customer help desk, but they replied that they'd rather talk to him. So he answered their queries, and as Italians find it impossible to talk without waving their arms about, he stopped cutting the meat in order to do so. I'm afraid I had one of my "British moments" in which I sighed deeply, folded my arms and stared at the young women incredulously. I had to bite my tongue to stop myself from saying, "Excuse me, but he's serving a customer." It just amazes me that Italian shop assistants or clerks [especially in the dreaded post office!] will stop what they are doing to answer people like this. The butcher must have noticed my annoyance because he did apologise when the women left but I was angry with them rather than him! Sometimes I think I will never acquire sufficient pazienza!


James Higham said...

Welshcakes, I can see the whole scene in my mind and he would be shocked that you were annoyed. However, my sympathy is your way in this. I wouldn't say that if I didn't think so. I'd say nothing.

This has inspired me for a post.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Thanks, James. I've just read your post and it has cheered me up!

Lee said...

I can imagine your annoyance and it would have been difficult to not say something. I probably would have been like you and not said anything either, but no one can stop your thoughts! Getting used to the customs and habits of others can be lengthy. We're all allowed to have our "grumpy" days, Welsh. I have quite a few to be honest! ;)

Patience...what's that? lol

jmb said...

Well I probably would have said something (provided I had the vocabulary which I'm sure you do)because I'm not known for my patience with such behaviour. Of course, then I would have gone home and castigated myself for speaking up, but it would be too late!

Ruthie said...

Welshcakes, this is something I often find myself compelled to explain to non-Italians, often to my chagrin.

This might be an Italian-American thing, but I've always found that Italians don't tend to think it's rude to interrupt people. No one ever told me it was rude to interrupt until I went to school. It's standard fare among my family and Italian friends back home.

In fact, if someone is telling you a story and you DON'T interrupt to interject something, they'll say, "What, aren't you listening? Say something!"

This can be frustrating for non-Italians. I catch myself doing it all the time. Most Americans hate it. I'll bet most British do too. I'm very sorry.

Don said...

I lived in Italy for six years, WL. I never get worried about slow service or interruptions, now. It's just not worth it.

I used to say that there is no Italian word for "Queue," as the concept doesn't exist.

elleeseymour said...

I think my previous comment for here has got lost. I guess this just highlights the impatience of youth, the exuberance of wanting everything here and now. Hope you are having a good weekend.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Hi, Lee. Yes, I was having a grumpy day! Jmb, I think it was my British reserve that allowed me to keep my mouth shut! Hi, Ruthie. No need to apologise - most days the incident would probably amuse me. But if I've had a bad day in other ways, sometimes I revert to being a Brit! Hi, Don. You are right. The only place where Italians queue is in the post office, I've found! Ellee, I definitely haven't received any other comment on this from you - blogger again, I expect. Maybe it was just youthful exuberance. I'm having an OK weekend so far; off to cook a spezzatino in a mo. Buona domenica a tutti.


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