Everyday life in Italy is made of getting to the university library looking forward to taking a look at the newspaper (considering that yesterday our prime minister has been sent for trial accused of paying a minor for sex and then trying to use his influence to cover it all up…) and finding out that we don’t have newspapers today, because the newsstand we get them from is closed, “he has the flu”. I asked for explaination: there’s a a bunch of other newsstands, couldn’t we get it somewhere else? The answer, of course, is no. Only with that newsstand we have a deal with, it’s not that in cases like this someone can get 5 euros, buy the newspapers somewhere else, and get reimbursed by the university. At least officially, this is not possible. Nobody worries about the fact that our university is supposed to be the lighthouse of Italian language and culture, and that today’s news could be relevant to our country. Nobody makes a phone call? Nope.

Later, one of the library attendant comes to talk to the one supervising the reading room (who also happens to be the supervisor of the whole library team, a group of 7 people): he just wanted to inform him, just to let him know, that on the web site of Rai Sport there’s the live streaming of the Perugia soccer team game. Then he leaves. Back to the office, to the computer, supposedly. I stare at the guy. He looks at me, frankly surprised: “What? What is it?”

I swear this is all true.

I feel stupid as I try to find the words, while he stares at me. If I were a foreigner it would be easier, maybe. As an Italian, knowing “as things go”, it feels like ripping culture apart,underlying what is obvious for everyone. Nails on a blackboard. “Isn’t he working? Isn’t he supposed to be working?”

He looks back at me. I violated culture, and we both know. I think I embarrassed him. He’s the supervisor, after all.

He looks at me. This time it’s him who has to find the words. “What am I supposed to do?” And I don’t have the strength to go beyond this point. I go back to my papers. He goes back to whatever he was doing. The embarrassment remains.

Just to give a frame to all this, I am collaborating with the office, on their request, for 150 hours. Again, it is 7 of them, and they have enough time to watch soccer games. I try to be efficient in whatever I am asked to do, and especially with students who ask for books or something else. I still spend most of my time just sitting there, studying, because there’s not much to do. What did I get called for? Couldn’t I go do something more useful? The same guy who came telling us about the soccer game just the other day told me he had a huge pile of books to inventory.

If you really want to know it all, ours is not even an open-shelf library! If you want a book you ask the attendants, but you can only get the books in the morning; if you ask for them in the afternoon, regardless of how many people are in the office in that moment that could go get them for you, you’ll get them the day after.

It’s normal. It’s everyday life. Like for a smoker two packs a day are normal, I guess. It is. Every Italian knows it is. Worse. Every Italian feel it is, feels like there’s nothing he can do about all this.

Something else that is normal for all of us, and I almost forgot to mention, but it all this could actually make a difference: at the university there is no Wi-Fi Internet.

No Internet, no newspapers, what difference does it make? Daily life goes on in Italy. Employees have access to the net, of course! Dude, the game is on!