I came to Italy with a messenger bag. And I take it everywhere. It’s perfect for school, fits my laptop and books.
But when it comes to those fast errands or sightseeing, I must look like quite a sight. Messenger bag on one hip, camera case (which is awkwardly large and squeaks) hanging from the other shoulder, my Camelbak waterbottle slapping against my leg as I walk, my ipod cord tangled in the numerous straps around my chest. And when I get to my destination, I always forget which layer to remove first, creating quite a scene, before dumping everything on the floor in a tangled mess.
So I decided to buy a purse (side satchel is a better name), something very small to fit my wallet (with the necessary safety zipper to protect against pick-pocketers), and, that coupled with my camera bag, just might lessen my status as “socially awkward” or, even worse, “tourist.”
I had ten minutes before my cathedral tour training at Sante Croce. I was all business, running around, brushing past people, gathering information, learning prices. The lowest offer was 20 Euros (the original starting prices were all over 30 Euros). I offered him 15, but he brushed me aside. I had 20 Euros. I could spend 20 Euros (I mean, it was a sheep skin leather satchel). But I didn’t want to spend 20 Euros.
So I stepped away from the market and began distributing all my change throughout the pockets of my jeans. 5 cents here, couple 10s there, a 1 Euro in this pocket, and so forth.
When I approached the stand, I started the act, the clock ticking as I worked my magic. (Forgive me if you think this is unfair, but I’m positive 15 Euros was an adequate offer.) I pointed to the same bag I had viewed before, first revealing a ten Euro bill to the shop owner and then a couple 2 Euro coins, increasing the contents of my open hand to 14 Euros. And then I began dramatically digging through the pockets of my jeans, juggling my bags, as I “searched” for more money. I acted apologetic, continually recounting my offer.
The shop owner’s face was a range of emotions, first slight annoyance and then growing amusement before settling on alarm. He stopped me at 17 Euros, waving his hands, saying “Basta basta!” I left the other 3 Euros of change to rest in my pocket.
You see, nobody likes loose change. And this simple fact about any denomination, Euros or USD, saved me 3 Euros!
It was a good day.