Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Hunting for commerce…and internet access

Shopping in Italy is always an interesting experience.  The Italian commercial establishments assume that people stay in one place from one generation to the next.  My bank has been in business since 1472, and I walked by it twice before I found it.  The grocery store is carefully concealed in the rear of the historic storefronts.  If you don’t know where something is, in other words, it can be a challenge to find it.
Likewise, internet access.  Once you know how to do it, it’s not that difficult.  Essentially, you have a prepaid service that’s set up on your “chiavetta”.  You then purchase cards at almost any tabachi (while you’d expect them to be nasty shops only for adults, but they’re really more like variety stores), and they can automatically upload the additional credit. 
However, finding this out was a challenge.  I went to an electronics store, that I found because I was told EXACTLY where it was.  The nice young man behind the counter told me to go to a tabachi, and pointed it out.  He told me (I thought) that I should buy a card for 25E that would give me 100 minutes.  So off I trekked, ¼ mile, to the tabachi.  I told the gruff man that I wanted a card for 25E that would give me 100 minutes.  He told me that he could give me a regular card, but not anything special, and sent me to a shop next door (I thought).  The next door shop was a software store.  The person was very nice, and spoke s-l-o-w-l-y (a treat, I must say), and said that he couldn’t help me.  He’s a software guy, and I needed to go to the phone shop (which, from his description, was the store I had first visited. 
I walked back to the first shop, passing by the (unlabeled – I had been told what it was) middle school, and the camouflaged Conad (alternative grocery store).  Going back into the first shop, I explained what had happened.  The nice young man behind the counter (who by this time, I’m sure, thought my imbecility to be beyond measure) told me to go to ANY tabachi, and ask for a 25E card and the 100 hours would be credited because it was set up that way.  Duh.
Footsore, sweaty, and (rather) fed up, I started the trek up the hill, NOT returning to the first tabachi.  On the way home, I found one that advertised for Tim, and went in.  I paid more money for TIM (gave him palimony?), and it was credited instantly.  So I am (to some degree) back in business, although I confess that Alice is mildly grouchy  -- she spoke to Tim earlier today, but is now cross and feeling ill-used.  I’ll have to wait to post this until she’s in a better mood.

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