Full disclosure: I had every intention of this installment being about our first actual stop, but as I began writing the story of this customs encounter, it became a whole thing and I can’t bring myself to trim. As always, your patience is appreciated.
And I do mean patience. Because I realized the other day that we’re quickly approaching two whole months since our return and that’s really embarrassing—I should have completed every possible installment by now.
Instead, I’m still deciding how many installments I’ll actually do.
SO! As much as I’d love to talk about faring an overseas redeye (order one beer before dinner, get a second one with your meal, pop a melatonin as soon as you’re done eating, eye mask, earplugs and you’re OUT), the real excitement began no more than an hour after landing—that’s when we met the biggest jerks of the trip.
Surprise! It was in line, waiting for customs.
Double surprise! They were middle-aged Americans.
Here’s the thing about deplaning an international flight in a city like Rome: You’re definitely not the only person doing it. In fact, you’re one of THOUSANDS in a given hour.
When you land in Rome, you take a quick train from the terminal to customs/baggage claim. Upon stepping off the train, you go down an escalator to a very wide hallway—we’re talking 20ish feet? (I’m terrible at these estimates but I could have laid end-over-end at least four times.)
Naturally, the giant hallway bottlenecks into a designated line only 2-3 people wide. We all knew this. Nobody cared who ended up where, as long as we weren’t separated from loved ones.
At least, I thought nobody cared.
Approximately 3/4 of the way down the wider hallway, a middle-aged woman started following me very closely, occasionally nudging me with her bag, giving a very vindictive side-eye that I was honestly not in the mood for, having just flown OVERNIGHT from NEWARK.
It continued for maybe 10 minutes? But I didn’t say anything, because I knew whatever I said wouldn’t be nice and there was a good chance I’d cry because anytime I confront people, I cry.
Instead, I simply allowed her creeping to continue—until she literally snarled at me, “You were behind us.”
Everyone within earshot recoiled. It was MORTIFYING.
Not for me. For her.
Drew kindly tugged at my arm, insincerely apologized (I love him so much) and cleared the way for her and her mousy, mute husband to advance the full THREE INCHES we had so rudely set them back.
Imagine if everyone in that hallway felt like calling “cuts”—we’d still be waiting to get through customs. Today. Two months later.
But, as clearly stated before, nobody else cared. Which is why, with the couple still directly in front of us, we all exchanged looks and audibly laughed. No words were exchanged (though I’m pretty sure we all spoke English), but it was clear they were the butt of our new joke.
It was a really special moment.
That might be why they proceeded to cut 20 more people in the 10 minutes it took to finally reach the bottleneck.
This brings us to the incident’s first Thing I So Badly Wanted to Say but Didn’t:
“EXCUSE ME! Ma’am! Yes. Hi. You were behind them.“
I wish I wasn’t such a chicken.
And it wasn’t even five minutes before the occasion for Thing I So Badly Wanted to Say but Didn’t No. 2 came along!
Because once we bottlenecked, the line SNAKED. Meaning we came face-to-face with those nerds FOUR MORE TIMES in the seemingly endless journey to get our passports stamped.
What would we have said this time?
“Don’t embarrass us.”
“Us” being America, of course. Because holy smokes guys, as if the world doesn’t hate us enough already, it wouldn’t hurt to show a little humility in visiting a foreign country.
Which is why we didn’t say anything and I’m being a whiny baby in my internet diary instead.
Really we were just holding out for awkward eye contact that never came because wouldn’t ya know it, they wouldn’t even glance our way.
We’re all chickens.
So what’s the point? Why did I opt out of talking about beautiful Calabria to recount this harrowing tale?
Because I really hope nobody I know would do this, but in the off chance you’re in a bad mood and have even the slightest desire to act this petty, know it’s really embarrassing.
Thanks for not giving up on me. Promise the next post will talk about the actual country of Italy and the amazingly beautiful people who live there.
Until then, just be nice.
Jam to: The Pretenders