Monday, September 7, 2009

A day in the life

I had to go to the Post Office to pay Erika's electric bill (she is in the U.S. simultaneously preparing Tosca for Nashville and Lady Macbeth for the Vienna State Opera). The landlady gave me Erika's bill a week after its due date, so I reckoned I'd better pay it right away.

Unfortunately, today was a big day for pensioners cashing their vouchers, which is one of the Post Office's most important functions here. The line was at least an hour long at the small Post Office on Campo San Polo, so I went to the main Post Office (at the foot of the Rialto Bridge, in the former German Trade Association of the middle ages. At one time this particular Grand Canal palazzo wore exterior frescoes by Tiziano and Giorgione, but they didn't last long. Human incompetence completed the job begun by the corrosive salt air).

The main post office has five service windows for pensions, bill-paying and the like, and one reserved for postal products. Of the five non-postal windows, only one was working. The computers were down. With only one window open, the line was a good hour's wait, two-thirds of them pensioners, but I seriously wanted to get the bill paid and decided to tough it out.

If the stamp window isn't busy with stamps, they can handle bill-paying, so the first argument broke out after someone at the end of the line slipped up to the empty stamp window, in front of thirty people who had been there longer. Italians are very forthcoming with their opinions; everybody has one and all are voiced. I wasn't in a particular rush, the plumber wasn't due until after three, so I settled in, but everyone else raised enough hell that a window was opened for pension business only, leaving the other window for bill paying, as well as the stamp window which quickly became a bill-paying window. This trimmed over half the wait time; I was only in line for half an hour to pay the bill which took about a minute-and-a-half.

The plumber was coming because my neighbor, whose (immense) apartment takes up the complete ground floor and two-thirds of the first floor of my building (my small apartment, once a part of it, taking up the other third), had not only not paid his rent for a year, but had also neglected to pay his water bill. I came home one day last week to find no water, and it took the landlady several phone calls to find out why it had been shut off, to pay it, and to get them to turn it back on again. That happened surprisingly quickly.

But after the shut-off and shut-on the filter on my water heater started to drip. The workman who cut the seal he had put on the day before when he shut it off, told me that after turning it back on I would need to clean the filters on the faucets; the off/on processing barrages the taps with calcium and rust. He twisted mine off to show me, and they were filthy. Something similar must have happened to the water heater filter. The leak was is a casual drip drip; I have to empty the bucket every six or seven hours. The landlady called the plumber who said he would come today after three, but never showed. At five I texted my landlady replied with his phone number. When I called him he apologized, said he'd had a crazy day and would come tomorrow at 1pm.

That left me the remains of a cool, sunny September day and I decided I deserved a gorgeous walk. I did the walk around Punta della Dogana, but in a slightly different way, noticing different things.

A party was being set up on the private deck behind the Punta della Dogana, facing San Giorgio and the immense yachts moored in the basin, all likely related to the film festival. I caught a glimpse of the festival the other night when Eve and I walked by the red carpet area on Lido, spread north of the Casino, and ended up on the terrace of the Hotel Excelsior, film festival central. It was fabulous in its way, but mostly for the conversation, for the light of the full moon on the Adriatic, and all the glamorous people around us. The hamburger wasn't bad either (much better than last time) and the buffalo mozzarella was everything you could ask for.


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