I have been observing the people of Rome for about 3 weeks now. Maybe that doesn’t seem like much time, until you consider that I am on two subways and a bus, every single day and I have walked almost 115 miles this week, about 85 last week, which means I’ve spent a bunch of time walking amongst tourists and Romans alike. I continue to find the city center my destination when deciding where to walk – I like the sounds, the thrum of the hustle and bustle, I’m discovering, much to my surprise.
This is not to say that I don’t also find myself frequently frustrated. First off, people do NOT move. I mean, you’re walking down the street, a throng of you crossing the street, say, and the people on the other side, when you arrive – just stand there. They make you walk around them. I mean, dozens of us (those making forward progress) are required to turn sideways, trip over our neighbors or otherwise have to contort so that we work ourselves around THEM. This might sound really petty and silly and you’re probably thinking “what is your problem anyway?”, but, seriously?
Shouldn’t everyone be responsible for making the system work? Shouldn’t those “on the other side” be thinking to themselves, “Hey, here comes a big group. If I just take one step or turn even slightly, the entire crowd will have an easier time making their way through this intersection.”? Shouldn’t they feel responsible for the efficiency of the entire group getting to their destination? Heck, this happens when it’s just one on one. Most of the sidewalks here are maybe 2 feet wide and when I walk towards another person, I am thinking “Ok, move to the right just a step and they’ll move to their right just a step and we’ll avoid running into each other.” But, nooooo. I take my step to the right and they just stand right there, talking on the phone or to their companion or just staring into space and do NOT move. Soooo, I’m forced to move enough for both of us so we don’t bump into each other awkwardly. I do this time and again and think “OK, is everyone out to lunch?” Are they all so awed by the sites of Rome, the history of a mere couple of thousand years, that they forgot how to provide adequate personal space??? “What is happening?” Needless to say, I’ve continued to observe this behavior and now what do I do? I just walk and bump into them if they don’t move. There. That’ll show ‘em. Except it’s my shoulder who is sore by the end of the day when I’ve bumped into hundreds (it must be hundreds!) of people who just stand there. I am amazed at this weird cultural thing. I, stupidly, continue to expect a different response every time, but, of course, it does not happen.
So you might be thinking, she maybe has too much time on her hands or maybe she’s trying to walk too much and even the simplest inconveniences are, absurdly, annoying her. Could be. SMH in Rome…but all that said, let me be clear that this is the tiniest of inconveniences – I continue to be loving my time here… 😉