If not now, when?

One American woman. Twenty acres and a 1650 farmhouse in Tuscany. Random introspection and hilarity, depending on the day.

15 May 2006

Taught by example

I think I posted a story last year about the "carabinieri" coming to visit. It happens occasionally, and I'm happy to know that they keep an eye on things.

My first duo of carabinieri last spring were the Maresciallo (Marshal - sort of the boss) and another officer, Tonino. I had previously met the Maresciallo, Officer Tonino was new.

At one point during that first visit, the Maresciallo scolded Officer Tonino for speaking too quickly - "she's just learning, you need to go more slowly for her" he admonished. I was touched and appreciative of the simple gesture - in part because couldn't imagine police officers in the states being remotely so patient with someone who didn't speak English that well. (Then again, I can't imagine police officers in the US just swinging by to chat and see what's up, either.)

Officer Tonino has been by a few times to visit since then, and came by again today, this time with a new officer. I was training ivy on the new front pergola when they drove in. I waved, they stopped, Officer Tonino introduced me to the new guy ... Officer Giuseppe. And we were all chatting about pleasantries, how the winter had gone, etc., etc.

And then, Tonino - having been well trained by his Maresciallo - turned to Giuseppe: "you're going too fast, she can't understand if you talk so quickly."

Awwwwwwww. I admit it, my heart got a little melty. Maybe it's just the guy-in-a-uniform thing, but there was something so ... chivalrous about it. Yes, the Maresciallo would be proud.

Before he left, Tonino also told me that he thought my Italian had improved a lot since we last talked, at which I swelled with pride. Mostly because it is true, but also that anyone actually notices. I thanked him and told him that I was studying hard so someday he could introduce me to someone that didn't have to slow down to talk to me.

Though I'm not sure I'll remember it should panic strike, the local emergency number here for police is 112, not 911. Cento (100) and dodici (12).

It's the simple familiarity of these visits that I like so much. And they always end the same way, like the sign off for a predictable TV show. They say, "if you need us, just call (and mimics using his hand like a phone receiver)" and I reply ... "Cento dodici!".


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