Italy is a land of bureaucracy. Endless, endless bureaucracy. You’ve probably heard that and have thought “well the government everywhere is that way.” But in Italy, it’s not just the government.
While Italians are some of the friendliest and most generous people I’ve ever met, they can also be very prescribed about their jobs and understand quite well that they work within a system.
You’ll see this in action pretty much every time you enter the country. We landed in Milan a few weeks ago and were met with a punishing line at customs. It turns out, the border police were on break, and entering the country would have to wait. We’re used to it, but watching other Americans in line was hilarious. Trying to walk to the front of the queue to see what the “issue” was, continuously making sure they were in the right queue, etc. Hint: We’re all in the right line. It’s slow. It’s Italy. They’re on break.
We finally clear the border and are waiting for luggage. The carousel starts to move, bags start to arrive, people find their bags… a scene from any other airport in the world.
Suddenly the carousel stops. Ok – this happens. Just wait a moment and it’ll start again. It doesn’t start. There’s no one around to ask. We wait. Other Americans are confused. Why aren’t the bags coming? Why is there no one around to start the carousel? We aren’t confused, but we do need our bags.
Finally, I decide we’ll need to find someone.
I ask a passing police officer. He acknowledges that the carousel is indeed stopped, then walks away.
I walk to Lost and Found. The woman behind the counter stares at me.
G: “I think baggage claim number 1 is broken.”
Italian: “What makes you think that?”
G: “It’s stopped.”
Italian: “I don’t think it is broken. Maybe it’s just done.”
G: “It’s not done. There are bags behind the wall. More bags should come.”
Italian: “No, I think it is just done. Definitely not broken. In any case I have no power to help you. Maybe ask the airline?”
(The baggage carousel never started again. People literally climbed back into the baggage claim area to get their bags. It was indeed…done.)