A couple of surprising things have happened to me recently.
The first was when I took my shoes to be repaired. I had been putting it off for weeks, partly because, Milan being the world's capital for expensive shoes, I was a) embarrassed to take my £15 pound pair from New Look in and b) convinced that it would be hideously expensive and because I couldn't be bothered with the hassle of going and then having to go back to collect them. Eventually, however, having superglued my trousers to my leg in the process of trying to repair my second-last pair of decent shoes at home, I decided to go and get it done. I took them to the cobbler at the supermarket where I often shop and he asked me if I was doing shopping there or if I would prefer to come back another day. I had a couple of things to get, so I asked how long it would take and he said twenty minutes. I went off and did my shopping, then went back ten minutes later, convinced that I was going to have to wait another half an hour, which I didn't really have time for. The shoes were done. I paid the very reasonable price (6 euros) and congratulated the man on his speedy service. He replied, “Any time you need to bring something in, I'm here.” Italians? Inefficient?
The second thing happened when I was getting off the tram today. Trams and buses in Italy have entrance doors and exit doors, but normally nobody pays a blind bit of notice to the signs. Today, however, as I tried to dodge the crowd of people and prams at the exit door and sneak out the entrance, I was gently reprimanded by a woman trying to get on, who told me, “Questa è l'entrata.”
By this time I was starting to wonder if I had somehow been teleported over the border into Switzerland in my sleep. Then I tried to get into the department store and couldn't get past a couple having an extremely vocal argument in the door about whether they were going in or not, saw a dog in not just a quilted tartan jacket but a designer label hoodie (I kid you not) and felt reassured to be back in Italy.