04 June 2008

Bus Karma Accrued? Check!

Yesterday, I had an entertaining experience on the bus. Mia, Jessica, and I were on our way into the city, when an Italian family boarded the bus. Most of the family sat down, while the father and a son attempted to validate the tickets they held.

They first tried to insert the tickets into the machine that vends tickets. This, clearly, did not work. They turned the ticket this way and that, to no avail.

I was close enough to reach out to touch the man, so I indicated the machine he needed was across the way. When he tried to insert it the wrong way again, I simply took the ticket, turned it the right way, and inserted it for him. His wife thanked me, and they validated every ticket for the family.

All of this occurred between two stops. The entire family exited the bus at the stop just after the one where they boarded! They went to all of this trouble for one bus stop! The honest attempt to get the system right, to spend the time and money to get the tickets, and the short ride made us giggle. Even some of the Italians are puzzled by the public transit :)

I was pleased that I was able to help out. I also reflected that my help was welcomed here in a way it might not be in a lot of cities in the States. I felt no concern touching this man's arm to gain his attention -- touch is much more accepted and less personal in Italy. Were I to do this to someone in the States, it may not be as benignly received. I also was pleased to return a little bit of assistance -- the Romans were helpful to us when we were first learning this system. Maybe it's a little bit of bus karma.

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Works Cited

Fiona Wild, ed. Eyewitness Travel Rome (London: Dorling Kindersley Limited, 1993), 2007 edition.

Hawthorne, Nathaniel. The Marble Faun. New York: Penguin Books, 1990/1860.

James, Henry. Daisy Miller. New York: Penguin Books, 2005/1878.

Powers, Alice Leccese. Italy in Mind: An Anthology. Toronto: Vintage Books, 1997.

Steves, Rick. Rick Steves' Italy 2007. New York: Avalon Travel Publishing, 2006.