Sunday, February 26, 2006


As usual, a normal experience turns into something special. The oil needed to be changed in the car, and since it’s out of warranty, we didn’t see any reason to pay the outrageous dealership prices. Art decided to ask Maurizio to recommend someplace in Marsciano. When Art called, Maurizio’s response was to tell Art to come down on Saturday morning and he’d take him to a friend’s shop. As usual, more than we expected.

This morning Art drove down to Marsciano and he and Maurizio went to get the oil changed. The place Maurizio took him was right across the street from the overstock warehouse Frank had told us about, right on the edge of the industrial zone.  When Art and Maurizio got there, now one else was there. Art got out of the car and let the guy put the car on the rack. The place was run by a father and son. The father, who appeared to be in his late sixties, said that he’d been working on cars since he was a teenager. Surprisingly, he spoke some English, and even had some English language car manuals and magazines. 

As the oil was being changed, everyone gathered around to discuss everything from cars to politics. The father explained to Art about the other car he was working on that had blown a head gasket. He showed Art the various parts and tools he was using, explaining everything in great detail.  Somehow the conversation got around to food, and the father gave Art complete and detailed instructions about how to prepare rabbit. He told Art that he should come back sometime and that he (the father) would make some rabbit for them to eat!  More than once Art looked over to Maurizio and said, “Boy, this guy likes to talk!” Maurizio agreed, and noted that at least they weren’t being charged for the time, because with all the talking, the oil change was taking a lot longer than would be expected. The whole process took about an hour and a half. 

Rather than looking at a manual to see how much oil the car would need, the son simply put in a liter or two, checked the dipstick, then added a bit more. Maurizio said “Why don’t you check the manual to see how much it holds?”, and then it was discovered that they needed a little more. Apparently checking the manual was not the normal procedure!

While they were working on our car, someone else pulled up. The man got out and said he had a problem with his car. He approached the father and started to tell him what the problem was, and was told “Arrivo”…meaning “I’ll be with you in a minute”….the father then proceeded to finish his very long story to Art and Maurizio before turning his attention to the new customer.

This is so normal for Italy. Whether you’re at the post office, the grocery store or the garage, other people waiting in line never cause either the customer or the clerk to rush their personal conversations. No one gets upset or impatient; this is just the way things are. It’s quite common to see a car stopped in the middle of the road with a pedestrian leaning over to carry on a conversation with the driver. Other cars simply go around the stopped car, letting the conversation go on uninterrupted.

By the time Art got home he said his brain was exhausted from listening to so much non-stop Italian! He felt as if he’d had his lesson for the day, and he had, but it was much more than just a language lesson, it was another lesson in Italian life. The friendship, the kindness and the generosity of the Italians continues to impress us.


At 3/01/2006 10:06:00 AM , Blogger bakerquest said...

Peg went to have her jeep oil changed at walmart. so she's pushing little J through the aisles in the cart passing the time for 45 minutes that they said the jeep would take. When she cam back they said someone else had a problem and it would be an hour and a half. So they ate some walmart food and came back later. 2.5 hours later it was done. We have the capacity for streamlined customer service but don't implement it. which is worse?

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