AT THE STATION
I'm at the ticket office at the railway station to purchase a ticket for Rome. I am not sure if this is possible, as I need the ticket for the day that is immediately after the day that the clocks change, something that always causes serious delays to when the tickets are issued. The lady in front of me is carrying out a long procedure for a reimbursement, but I wait patiently. When eventually it is my turn, two youngsters rush in and ask if they can pass in front of me as their train is about to leave. I let them pass. Then, another eight arrive, with the same request. I have no reason to not let them go ahead of me, I do timidly point out that I would just like to know at least if it will be possible to buy my ticket, so as not to have to wait for nothing. The lady from before, all full of herself fromn the fact that she had managed to get a refund that she hadn't expected and from the fact that by this point she was about to leave, says to me, magnanimously: “Oh come on, we always waste so much time everywhere else, can't you waste a bit here too? After all, how's the clerk supposed to know if your ticket is available or not?” I swallow back a bitter response, after being talked to in such a way. Out of habit, as a matter of fact, I always go well in advance when going to use public transport and when purchasing travel documents. Besides, I am not objecting to groups of people passing in front of me, I would just like to know what is waiting for me. I control the nervous twinges in my stomach, I wait whilst all eight have got their tickets, then I once again ask the clerk the same question: “May I purchase a ticket for Rome for such-and-such a day?” “No – she replies – you cannot buy it, as it's not yet available”.
Ever since I have collaborated with the Rough Guides, I often put myself in the shoes of a foreign tourist, in the everyday situations that I find myself. An English person, who sees himself passed in front of in a queue by an elbowing horde of ten people, as had happened to me, would have gone crazy. May it be for that reason also that around our way you don't see many foreigners?