mercoledì 26 settembre 2007

Running on empty

It's fashion week. And what does that mean? Well, for many it obviously means lots of beautiful people meeting in over-priced, over-crowded venues to enjoy a free cucumber slice with their half a glass of post-catwalk mineral water... For me, however, it means traffic. Lots and lots of it. Take yesterday evening for example. My parents had just arrived so I skipped out of work early - at 6 o'clock - and jumped on the bus home, where I had to collect the car so that I could pick them up from their hotel. The distance from the office to my house is about 2 kms - 5 minutes by car or 15 minutes on the meandering bus. The traffic was already pretty awful, so the journey took half an hour. Hmph. Not good, but hey - now I get to jump in my warm, cosy car and in 10 minutes I'll be at my destination (Città Studi to Porta Venezia for those in the know - not exactly a million miles...). Except that when I get in the car, I find is has NO PETROL. I won't go into the anger and frustration that I felt towards my usually lovely BF at this point - suffice to say I was angry and frustrated. By this time it's 7 o'clock but no worries - the petrol stations around here are all open until 7:30. So I drive off with my fingers crossed and do a circuit of the one-way system, fighting my way through red lights and queues to get to the nearest one. CLOSED. How closed?? It's too early! OK don't panic - there's another station down the road and left a bit. So I get back in the traffic jam and head towards it. CLOSED - self service only. WHAT?? But it's only 7:15!!! No fair!! OK, so I can use the self service, right? Wrong! It only accepts 10 and 20 euro notes, and I only have a 50. Dammit! So I get on the phone to L, and he tells me where to go for another fuel station which DEFINITELY closes at 7:30. I switch the engine back on (slightly to my surprise) and drive off, repeating the mantra please don't break down please don't break down all the way. By this time the traffic is horrendous and it takes my a good 10 minutes to get 500m... but finally I see the petrol station looming in the distance, with the word APERTO (open) on the sign outside. Hurrah!!! I drive onto the forecourt triumphantly, only to notice that it's strangely quiet. And the door to the little hut is locked. And the pumps are switched off. NOOOOOOOOO!

My friends, it doesn't finish there.

OK, so it is now 7:25. I am not going to find a petrol station that is open for service - I am going to have to do it myself. I need to change my 50. Right, so in this street there are no shops or bars as it's completely residential, and even if there were, they'd pretty much all be closed at this time. I do however know of a cash point in the next street. I'm going to have to go and draw out 20 euros, then go back to the previous station and fill up myself. So I drive (well, actually I stick the car in neutral and coast) to the corner, dump the car in the middle of the road with the hazard warning lights on (as one does in these parts) and head for the bancomat. I am absolutely not kidding - FUORI SERVIZIO (out of order). By this point I am practically crying and have totally run out of solutions, so I think "F*ck it, I'm just going to continue to my parents' hotel, and hope that if I break down, it'll be after I pick them up so that they can at least provide moral support!" Mean but true. Amazingly I get there, collect them and start heading for Luca's bar, and about 200 metres from their hotel we find a damn petrol station, and my dad gives me a 20 euro note for the self-service machine (am loving the strong, independant woman lifestyle...). We then sit in traffic for the following 40 MINUTES as we attempt to make our way the short distance to the bar, where Luca and his family are waiting for us to join them for dinner. Yes folks, for me Fashion Week is no more than a pain the the (scrawny) butt.... Tonight we have a table booked at 9 o'clock. I'm leaving the office at 5:30.

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