If you live in Rome and want to go to Siena, it’s necessary to change trains in a little town somewhere in the middle called Chiusi-Chianciano Terme.
I get a cappuccino to still my train-rattled nerves and find myself back in the station, passing the time until my connection by reading Italian fairy tales.
A frazzled woman comes in, huffing and puffing her way to the ticket counter.
“I need two tickets to Florence.”
It’s clear in her distinctly obnoxious tone that she’s an American and that it’s better not to look up or draw attention in any way.
The ticket seller passes the tickets over the counter and the tourist walks away, looking over the details. She pauses and, in an even greater huff, makes her way back to the counter.
“Florence.” She says. The large brim of her white hat bounces with every movement of her tomato red head. It looks like two euros that she paid twenty for.
The ticket seller shrugs, not understanding what this cartoonish lady wants.
“You sold me tickets to Firenze. I need to go to Florence.”
The ticket seller shrugs again, as if to suggest that in Italy, Italian cities go by Italian names.
The woman storms away from the desk, sighing like the Titanic until it hits an iceberg, in the form of her husband, who has just stepped in off the platform.
“This woman sold me the wrong tickets and she’s got a real attitude problem!”
Like a knight clad in khaki Ralph Loren, the man strides up to the desk, arms crossed and lips pursed.
“Listen, Miss. You sold my wife the wrong tickets.”
“Yes, to Florence. But you sold her tickets to someplace else.”
“You go to Florence.” She says, and promptly pulls the curtain down over the window.
“The nerve!” The husband exclaims. His wife dances timidly in the corner.
Above them, the board shows the train to Firenze departing.
I smile, and go back to reading.