My third attempt to get the bill for the car was this morning successful. Although, he hadn’t actually prepared it, he invited me into the office while he got out the necessary paperwork. ‘You’d better sit down’, he said, then laughed. The phone rang and of course he answered it, he didn’t tell the person to hang on or call back but left me sitting and staring whilst he chatted on the phone as though he (and I) had all the time in the world. This is typical of Italy of course and I have learned to be patient, this is the way things are done here. I looked at his oily finger nails then my eyes went to the shelf behind where there was a lovely chocolate cake sitting under a plastic cover, the two things seemed at odds, dirty hands and delicious cake. I wondered if the garage men get used to the smell of oil, diesel, grease and petrol? It would put me off wanting to eat anything. They must have special washing machines in their houses just for the dirty overalls. I was thinking all this while I sat and waited. I turned around and looked at the photos on the wall, the usual calendar of naked women and cars and there were also photos of the mechanic when he was younger sporting leathers and astride a rather fancy looking motorbike. Faded family photos also adorned the office and this took my mind back the the dirty overalls, knowing that the wife would be the one to be dealing with them, not many Italian men know how to use a washing machine….I have been lead to believe.
Aha, he’d finished on the phone and smiled at me, adjusted the adding machine and began to punch in the numbers… 110, 45, 67, 18, 18, 19, 31…something like that anyway and then the big one 450…I was hoping that was the total but – unlucky – no, the total came to just under €800. So expensive or not? I think okay, considering six weeks ago we were talking €2,500/3000!
So the waiting is over, I know now how much is, ‘not much’ it’s €800 much. I took the bill in my hand and smiled.
‘A domani, o dopo domani, o…’ I said, ’til tomorrow or the next day, or…’
That’s the good thing about a small town in Italy, you may wait a long time for the bill but they will also wait a long time for payment. I am British though, so probably won’t keep him hanging on longer than a week.