You know those little niggling things which can really drive you mad mainly because in the grand scheme of life they are so small and insignificant, yet at the same time they seem like the biggest injustice in the world especially as, no matter what, there is nothing you can do to change them, as they are completely out of your hands and totally beyond your control?!
Somehow, I always seem to run head first into this sort of situations leaving me irritated beyond belief. As my husband would gently put it: ‘Why do you pay so much attention to small stuff?!’. The honest answer is: ‘I don’t know. This is just how it is.’
I don’t really believe in being positive just for the sake of being positive. I much prefer being realistic and seeing things for what they are. Yet, nowadays it is quite fashionable (for a lack of a better word) to try to see everything through a very positive prism and to put a positive spin on every single thing.
Even though I love silver, a silver lining cannot always be achieved. I like questioning things, analysing them, seeing them for what they are, rather than simply accepting them and then trying to make them palatable. I understand that it is much easier to simply go along with the crowd and just diplomatically play along. But sometimes, sometimes I really would like to be able to understand why something is the way it is and then actually change it or influence it somehow.
Take this weekend! Not one, but three small petty things happened which made me a bit mad (one of them about a dozen times more than the other two, but still). I am sharing them below simply because I really and simply would like to off-load. There is nothing I can do about any of these events, but in the grand scheme of life I really wish I could.
Late on Saturday afternoon we found ourselves in the village of Borghetto on the shores of the river Mincio in the Northern Italian region of Veneto where we currently live. It is a very picturesque place with splendid views of a medieval bridge, old mills and the river with its fast flowing waters. The weather was nice and warm. To make things perfect a white swan glided towards us. I was busy taking its picture over and over again trying to capture its regal beauty when I became aware of a small boy, about 9 or 10 years old, who was standing about a meter away from me. He was throwing pebbles at the swan trying to hit it. One of his attempts was almost successful and the pebble dropped in the water less than 5 cm away from the swan. The parents of the boy laughed heartily. All the while the boy was chanting in Italian ‘Ti assassino! Ti assassino!‘ which I took to understand as ‘I’ll kill you! I’ll kill you!’. No, as much as I tried I couldn’t put any positive spin to it. I looked at the parents, mainly to see how big the father was in case I couldn’t hold it in anymore and spontaneously asked him to stop his child throwing pebbles at the swan. Because, you know, if you condone your child being violent to animals, it is almost guaranteed that you will not condone a third party voicing their concerns about it. The father didn’t seem too big, I thought. Luckily, just then the family decided it was time to leave, the mother called the boy to her and they drove off leaving the swan alone.
The Guide to Venice
On Sunday morning I was quietly browsing through the latest posts in one of the largest travel blogs in the UK, when I came across a travel guide to Venice. Seeing that this is one of my most favourite cities on Earth, I clicked on the link curious to read the travel writer’s recommendations. I quickly became irritated by the factual errors in the post – for example, the writer described the Venetian traghetto as an ‘ornate gondola’ which it certainly is not. In all honesty, I am quickly getting tired of travel blogs with superficial quick writings without much of an actual, factual research backing them off. I really don’t understand how they manage to become so popular based on the regurgitating of the same old tips packaged as ‘insider’s travel advice’ which have been received without much of an effort from the local company sponsoring the whole or part of the respective trip. And then you click on a dozen more travel blogs and they contain absolutely the same information just because they all have been on the same sponsored trip and in fact their respective writers don’t know much about the place at all. I am really on the lookout for some proper travel writing based on intimate knowledge of a location, its traditions and its history, on experiences with the local people, on first hand sampling of the local cuisine. Which is not something you can gain through sponsored trips and writing for SEO.
The Sales Assistant
On Sunday afternoon we were in a large toyshop in Vicenza – a place we have visited and shopped at several times before. We were on the lookout for a specific toy – a craft set allowing the child to create glitter images, which we had seen at the huge Children’s Fair held in Vicenza last November. My husband approached one of the sales assistants and very politely asked her if the shop had in stock this particular craft set. He spoke to her in his best Italian and he even used the word for ‘glitter’ in Italian (he had done his research). She just looked at him and replied: ‘No capisco!‘ (meaning ‘I don’t understand’) and that was that. No smile, no offer to call a colleague, nothing. It was like she wasn’t interested in selling or like we were not deemed a good enough customer just because we speak a bit of a broken Italian. We always approach local people in Italian and even though we are not very good at it, our efforts are often appreciated and in general people are really nice and helpful. Only last weekend, whilst visiting a charming walled town called Castelfranco Veneto nearby, we asked a young couple for directions to the house of the famous Italian painter Giorgione and they were so nice that instead of simply explaining how to get there, they walked with us all the way to the house (which has been turned into museum) all the while having a little chat with us. So, to have someone whose role is actually to help customers ignore us in such a way was a bit shocking, to say the least. Undeterred, I approached another sales assistant and again we explained as best as we could what we were looking for. She was very nice and even though the shop didn’t stock this particular craft set, she explained this nicely instead of cutting us off.