Archive | July, 2013

(BUS)ted in Rome

8 Jul

Pope Papa Francesco bus ticket Rome


I can’t justify my actions. No matter how I try to find excuses, they need not apply.

You see, I got busted  ‘freeloading’ on the bus in Rome. Not the greatest sin in the world (but a stupid one nonetheless- thanks mum!) 

I will, however, attempt to provide some excuses:

1. Having to buy tickets from newspaper stands (that are never around when you are in a rush) rather than ‘beep’ my pre-loaded oyster card is a hinder.

2. Never carrying cash on me (my deterrent for Rome’s residents with sticky fingers) to pay for said ticket is a factor.

3. The fact that I now consider myself to be your average Gianni (who seems to spend ticket money on espresso because ‘É la crisi’ (the slogan that rolls off every italians tongue in need of an excuse). 

4. Like the notorious characters of many ancient myths circling this historic city, bus ticket inspectors are often spoken of (and feared) but never in a million years are they seen. 

Ticket inspecting looms above every ‘freeloader’s’ head as they bump along via del Corso- sandwiched in sweat- but, being caught is treated like a tragic disease (something they hear about but never imagine happen to them). 

My fatal flaw was taking the empty seat near a window and putting ‘Vasco Rossi’ (#ageditalianrocker)on my ipod- extra loud.  

Like a gazelle stalked by lions, I didn’t stand a chance.

As we pulled into Largo Argentina, I felt a sharp tap on my wrist. I looked up and there was my young (good-looking) italian nemesis. My expression wore my guilt.

I put on my best ‘foreigner in Rome’ routine, but he wasn’t buying it. Nor was I.

After indicating to a sign and gesticulating that a 250 euro fine was due. He dragged me off the bus into his lair of bus inspectors.

*Thick roman accent* “Ah, you must pay 250 euros now..Okay?” 

” I don’t have any money. It’s a public holiday, I thought buses were free.” *cringe at my embarrassing excuse of an excuse*

“You must give me you are card of identitia” *snatches card from hand* (now I know I won’t get away- bugger!)

“I don’t have any money I already told you. I’m visiting Sister Gabriele…… from London.” (I went for the religious reference- failed- then switched to the London reference as italians LOVE London (I usually get: ” Ah you know Fabric? I love that to dance at Fabric”)- failed. Bugger!)

“Okay…so, lady, you come with us to police station. Luca, Luca,(name changed) vieni qua!” *calls over slimy, young co -worker with a pot of grease in his hair and white armani sunglasses, chewing gum erratically, nice cheesy white smile (veneers?)*

My new chaperones decided to parade me around Campo de Fiori for 20 minutes ‘on the way to the police station’, clutching my id card; their trophy, stopping to chat to ‘Gianni’ and ‘Alfredo’ (with me poised in the background as some desperate groupie) and making loud references to POLICE STATION (scare tactic). 

Eventually, I told them I’d pay the fine….. But they had to bring the price down. I figured this would be the same as every italian transaction and there would be some bargaining (and dramatic gestures) involved. 

I dragged them to a cash point. “How much?”

After a brief consultation session, my captors came back. ” 50 euros”

“Fair enough”.

I withdrew the amount and went to hand it to him….but just as I did…I smiled and said: “Scontrino” (receipt)

His face flashed green, then white, then red. “Ummmm, ah look signora, we do a deal. No problems for us, no problems for you.”

Ah, we’re going to do this ‘the italian way’, I see!

“Ok, then. 20!”

“Okay…fine…Mamma mia, questi stranieri!” *dramatic sigh*

I gave him my 20 euro ticket to freedom and he tucked it into his shirt pocket. I took the opportunity to leg it.

“Wait, lady, your ticket!”