Arno River, Firenze, Italia

Arno River, Firenze, Italia

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Nobody likes loose change.

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.  

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