Thursday, January 21, 2010
When in Rome
So I arrived in Rome yesterday morning safe and sober. I jokingly refer to Delta flights as "Club Delta" - because they usually involve preflight cocktails, some inflight entertainment and cocktails, and by the time you land, you're ready to rock! So I was happy to report that I arrived on the continent safely and more importantly sober.
I always think it's important - and a lesson in culture and globe trotting - to make some attempt to blend in to your host culture. And when a smartly dressed Italian woman asked me in Italian for directions - I think I fit the part. And in case you're wondering, I was able to direct her accurately and efficiently to the taxi stand she was looking for.
After nearly 90 minutes of waiting with my entire flight mates for our luggage to arrive in the airport, I made my way through customs control and went back upstairs to check in for my next flight - Roma a Sicilia. This segment would be on a discount Italian carrier. And by discount - I mean the entire round trip ticket was less than 50 Euros (with tax inclusive!). I knew I'd have limited baggage allowance - after all, most Italians aren't booking flights to rustic Sicily with more than 15 kilos of luggage - so I see the air carrier's point in charging for heavier bags.
While I was waiting in line to check in, I noticed that all the people in line with me were Italian. They looked Italian. They certainly sounded Italian. And they were all wearing sunglasses. So what's a guy to do?! When in Rome (literally)...
I put my sunglasses on and waited my turn to check in. Apparently this was the best choice I made all day. The young man and young woman behind the counter were so impressed that I "didn't look American and certainly didn't sound like an American" - whatever that's supposed to mean - and most of all, the young man loved my sunglasses. He wanted tot ry them on, but his coworker thought they should actually work and check others in for their flights. So as I lifted my suitcase onto the scale, the two started to laugh - apparently my 45 pound bag was a tad over the 15 kilo allowance - so I just motioned to the bag, smiled, and said "c'e' sole e la moda italiana - there is sunshine and italian fashion" - and they laughed, handed me my boarding pass, and wished me on my way - without paying the 75 euro penalty as required - and all because of my sunglasses.
When in Rome, don't just do like any ordinary Roman. Do your best to be observant, be polite, smile, and try to speak the language. And always pack your sunglasses!