It’s Thursday evening and my friend / colleague K is returning from a 3-day work trip to Athens. As she waits in the baggage claim area at Malpensa airport, she notices that the girl standing next to her, speaking Italian to a group of guys, has a strong American accent. She is about to strike up conversation when her bag arrives, and so, being in a bit of a rush to jump in a taxi and get home, she picks up her bag and heads for the exit. Following a quick trip to the bathroom, she is out in the daylight and heading for the taxi rank. K has lived in Milan for 5 years now, and regularly passes through Malpensa so she automatically knows which way to head and where to wait in order to beat the rush. Dodging through the smokers and rowdy groups of families, she notices the American girl from her flight looking around as if lost and confused, and so K (being the friendly soul that she is) approaches the girl. The exchange goes like this:
K: “Hi, do you need a taxi? Can I help you?”
K: “Hey, sorry, were you looking for a cab, because if so you need to go to the front of the cab line”
K (confused):”Ummm… can you hear me?”
Girl (in an aggressive tone) : “Why are you talking to me?”
K: “Sorry, I thought you might need some help getting a taxi”
Girl (even more aggressive): “I don’t need your help. I LIVE HERE! And you probably don’t even speak the language!”
K: “Jeez, I was only trying to be friendly and actually I do speak the language - I’ve lived here for five years”
Girl: “I don’t need your help – I have a voucher for 80 euros which will get me anywhere in Milan”
K: “Errr, I think you’ll find that 80 euros is the flat rate whether you have a voucher or not”
Girl (in a really rude tone): “M’am, why are you still talking to me?”
K (now very angry and offended at the ‘m’am’ comment): “Why are you so mean?!”
Girl: “I still don’t know why you’re talking to me”
K: “Wow. I was only trying to help you! Just one more thing before I go… I feel really sorry for you! Have a nice day.”
And with that, K marches to the front of the taxi line, gets in the first waiting cab and leaves the mean girl, still looking dazed and confused on the pavement.
Since the UK / US expat community in Milan is relatively small, I would like to launch an appeal. If anyone knows the super bitch who travelled from Athens to Malpensa on the evening of Thursday 9th April, or if you ARE the super bitch, let it be known that this is NOT the way to treat people – especially strangers who are just trying to be friendly and helpful to a fellow citizen. Grrrrrrrrrr.