Thursday, April 27, 2006

How do you stop this contraption?

The first half of the semester was all a ruse I tell you. The first couple months, we read, went to class, took notes, saw sunset glow and just generaly thought we had a handle on the course load here in Rome. I wondered what eveyone was talking about when they said that this was the tough semester. Then midterms came and where followed immediatly by the Greece Trip, with 10-Day close on its heels. There was a little time to recoup, and we were all off again for the North Italy Trip, and then Easter came. It's the end of the second week since we came back from Easter Break, and we're all worring about finals next week. In the mean time there were five page papers in Theology, Philosophy, Lit Trad, and History to contend with, 6 1-page journals to write for Lit Trad, and one 2 page Philosophy paper. Tommorow, I have another 5 pager due for Lit Trad, and on Saturday another short one for Philosophy. Once all that is finished, I can try to catch up on my reading and write the take-home (which doesn't mean much since our classroom is in the basement of the dorm) esay for Philosophy.

What I'm getting at here is that if I havn't been the best story teller lately, there's a good reason for it. Now would someone please tell the powers that be to return all the time they stole? It was January yesterday, I sware. To tide you over, here's one of my Journals for Lit Trad. Note the complete and utter lack of photographic evidence.

The Godfather rides my bus.* When one is packed on a vehicle as small and as crowded as one of the COTRAL buses, one can’t help but get a good look and smell at your neighbors, in most cases a far better observation than any right-minded person would ever desire. I usually watch the people around me without taking too much notice of them. I can’t differentiate between any of the newspaper wielding grandmothers, between any of the middle school rats, the high school punks, the luggage toters bound for Ciampino, or the creepy middle-aged bums. I might see the same people every time I get on the bus, or I might never see the same person twice; I have just never bothered to pay that much attention.

Every now and then, someone will stick out in my mind, for instance, the gay couple singing, yes singing, in the aisle and hassling the driver. There’s one particular gentleman that sticks out in my mind. He is in that late middle-aged stage where it is difficult to judge a man’s age – he could be as young as forty or as old as sixty-five – his hair is black and hits his shoulders. He is going grey in his beard, and at his temples. He always wears a baseball cap, a scarf, and about five more layers than anyone else on the bus, wears beat-up sneakers, and carries a black duffle bag.

The Illuminati is run by a housewife in Montana**, which is why I am not surprised to find the Godfather ridding the bus from the black hole on the other side of Albano***. On fact, he does not seem to do much except ride the bus back and forth from Rome. I see him, coming from or going to the city, about once a week.

There is always an empty seat next to him, even during rush hour. He uses this, in some sort of modern version of the ancient Roman system of cliente, to talk to people. The Godfather knows everyone. People will sit down next to him and talk for a while, they sit down looking concerned or worried, and when they leave (you always get up when you finish speaking to the Godfather, someone else might want to talk to him) they look relaxed. A month or two ago, when the gay couple was making a scene, the Godfather called one of them over too him. The Godfather talked for a while, with the young man explaining things every now and then. After they finished talking, the guys stopped causing a scene, and got off the bus two stops later.

I don’t speak enough Italian to know what he does to solve their problems, but he does something. That doesn’t matter much to the Godfather: he speaks English. He knows about our campus and its residents as thoroughly as he knows about anyone else. More than one UDer has had a conversation with him about how the semester is going, along with playing the usual game of twenty questions (‘what’s your major?’ ‘when will you graduate?’ ‘how do you like Italy?’).

Seeing such an important person riding public transportation might be odd somewhere else in the world, but this is Italy after all, and organization stops on the north side of the Austrian border. The Godfather is a nice guy, and whatever he does after he makes the sign of the cross after disembarking from the bus, one can’t help but hope that he will be coming back to dispense wisdom on the bus another day.


*he won't be riding it tomorow though, the bus and metr people will be on strike from 8:30 to 16:30
**This one does take some explination. When we were in London, there was a little mix-up with the hostel, we had to wait for a guy who had been staying in our room to leave and go to a different room (which required some searching before the hostel people found an employee who spoke Spanish well enough to convay that information to the guy) and then to change the sheets on the beds. While all this was going on, Nick and Mr. Boy and I sat in the lobby and watched 3 or 4 episodes of Jailbreak, which is a dumb show, but utterly addicting. We couldn't even collect enough energy to change the channel, or maybe that was because they had the heat going full blast and it was a tiny room. At any rate, on this show, there would be periodic segments in which we would see the Illuminati guys plotting, which neccessitated phone calls to the boss. It turns out that the boss is a house wife in Montana.
***it sucks up all the buses and never returns them, this is why when you’re waiting to go to Rome you always see three buses heading the other direction before yours shows up

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