Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Rome-- An Inauspicious Start

This morning we were headed to Rome to pick up our family members. The start of our trip together!! We were SO excited. But first, we have to get the GPS to find the Rome airport, and we were having a bit of difficulty. So, Kent pulled over and I was fiddling with it, and then SUDDENLY-- CRUNCH!!! At first I thought someone had hit us-- but no. We backed into another car. Kent was trying to get out of the lane of traffic, and saw a spot behind him. He started to back around the other cars and clipped one of them. 

A woman ran out from the local coffee shop, yelling "Madonna!" and practically keening about her car, calling for her son to come out. He came over,  and I apologized in Italian. Then I said I didn't speak Italian well, and did he speak English? He did. Hooray. The damage to his car was minimal, and in fact, most of it rubbed off when Kent washed it with a wet paper towel.  I thought maybe we could be on our way.... Then "lo spettacolo" began. Kent and I wanted to give him 50 euro and be done; there was no dent, and just a little black mark where our rearview mirror had rubbed his car. (Our car looks much worse, and we will probably have to give money back to the people we are selling it to, which is a total bummer).  

He snorted at the idea of 50 euro. He said "Just to look at it will cost 50 euro." Then he acted it out, playing the mechanic, glancing over his shoulder, then holding out his hand for 50 euro. So, Kent went to 100 euro, so we could be all done with this part of the program and be on our way to the airport. The clock was ticking... 

He was insulted with our offer. He said we should just follow him a short way to his mechanic, who could look at the damage on the car. I said "No- we have to go. We cannot go to any mechanic." Kent said we have to go to the airport. We don't have time to go to the mechanic. Kent again offered 100 euro, which he declined. We told him if 100 euro wasn't enough then he would have to take out insurance info and make a claim.  We got out our car papers, and started writing down our Hungarian address and our insurance policy number with the Hungarian info. This was clearly not going the way he wanted. I decided that we should take some photos of the damage to his car, just in case he claimed the damage was worse than it was. I left Kent filling out the paperwork. I got my camera.  Here I am, documenting the damage. 

Then the guy came out and said that he only drove the car once a week to do his errands (the Italian man's version of only driving it once a week to church) and that every year some tourist hits his car.  Very sad story. Kent said "Yes, I'm very sorry." and kept filling out the information for his insurance claim for the practically nonexistent damage to his car.  He looked at me, taking pictures, and Kent, intently filling out paperwork, and realized that he was beaten. He took the 100 euro.

Kent came over with the papers in his hand and said- "Let's go. He took the money. We're out of here." We decided that a year of living in Hungary had made us much more formidable opponents. The Hungarians would have refused to speak English; they would have yelled at us incomprehensibly and called for the police. We would have thrown more money at them and probably been charged with leaving the scene of a crime and hit and run.  Here- We were half an hour behind schedule. We were stressed. We were out 100 euro. But we were capitol "D" Done and we on our way to meet our family!! 

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