Money Spoils

Airplane, September 27, 2004 - I wanted to write a bit about my train ride from Venice to Milan a few days ago. After a rather painful train experience with my mother a couple of weeks ago, I splurged and purchased a first class ticket, which was not much more expensive than a second class ticket: around 26 Euros instead of 19. After I boarded, I was sitting in a compartment with an older Italian woman, when suddenly the door flew open, and a blond woman waltzed in carrying a blue, rectangular bag. Following her was a pleasant looking black man, who was carrying a large bag, which I presumed to be hers. She pointed up to the luggage racks above our heads, and said, "put it up there!" (he complied, wordlessly). I couldn't really place her accent, but it was really annoying with "erhm..." being her filler word of choice. Soon after sitting down, she opened the blue bag, and out popped a little dog, and although he turned out to be really stupid, I had to admit that he was really cute. The dog played around with a little ball under the seats and around our feet. The woman immediately started talking to everyone in the compartment, which normally wouldn't have been annoying, except that she wore an air of expectation around her, directing the nice Nigerian-Italian man (whom she had just met and convinced to carry her bags) to translate every sentence to the two elderly Italian women sharing our compartment.

"Tell her [boring drivel here]. Well? Tell her!"

She harrassed me about my purpose in Europe, my background, where I live, etc. -- all while it was obvious that I had no interest in speaking with her. She even told me a couple of times that it was "[my] turn" to kick the dog's toy ball when it rolled near me. I had tuned out as soon as she stated that she was currently living in Monaco, and had headphones on and was reading a book. Despite all of that, she continued speaking to me as if my attention belonged to her. And she had no concept of what people might do for a living. Instead of asking one of the women in the compartment what she does for a living, she asked, "do you own a hotel?" What kind of question is what? Maybe it's normal to own hotels if you happen to live in Monaco, but a question like that just struck me as being bizarre.

In any case, her intentions soon became clear: she needed someone to carry her bags for her upon our arrival at Milan, because nice Nigerian man was getting off of the train before her stop (how dare he?!). She had fifteen minutes to transfer trains in Milan, and had too much luggage to carry -- plus a meticulously-groomed dog and a total lack of knowledge about train transfers. After all, how was she to get to Monaco without servants to carry things for her? I think she complained and worried about her transfer to virtually everyone who came by. Everyone in our compartment except for me was studying her itinerary with her, and she also worried to the ticket official at length (he looked annoyed). I'm sure she would have complained to the food cart guy if he hadn't been so gruff (she tried to pay for a 2 Euro snack with a 50 Euro bill -- the smallest one she had, apparently, and had to resort to accepting money from the nice Italian woman sitting next to her).

In the end, I helped her move one big bag onto the train platform, and then left her there to figure out how to work a baggage trolley. And I didn't feel bad for leaving her, nor her little yippy dog.

I met someone just like her in Egypt a few years ago. Blond Egypt Woman also talked non-stop and was oblivious to the amused and horrified looks that other people were giving her as she prattled on about things no one else could relate to. AND, she also targeted me as someone who might help her carry her bags off of the airplane (I did). Argh. That's what happens when you buy a first class ticket, I guess.