In addition to teaching I have taken on the role of bus monitor. For those that know me, this would seem a bit out of place as in the past I was the first person at school. I like and prefer being in the building well before any other adults or students arrive simply because it allows me time to do additional prepping and center myself for the day ahead.
In Italy, I don’t have that luxury. I don’t have a car to get to work and biking can be a bit sketchy. Wanting to prove to myself I can be flexible and adapt, I took on this new role. I have to admit being the last teacher in the building has been a welcomed change.
Riding the bus allows me the opportunity to chat, hang out, and joke with all the students not just the ones I teach. I get to serve as a glorified stewardess walking up and down the aisle. One moment I can sit with a seven year old who wants to read a book to me, and then I jump up to answer a science question for a ten-year-old. A few seconds later I could be back to the front adjusting a seat for a three-year-old and then on to the next student. It’s a busy ride but one that has an excellent view of the Adriatic Sea in the early morning.
Yesterday (Friday) I thought it would be just another morning. The bus navigated the tight bends and turns, while impatient locals zipped by. Mopeds weaved in and around traffic. The more ambitious ones looked both ways before running a series of red lights. This is normal for Italy.
Although it’s normal, I couldn’t help but be frustrated as our bus approached the church stop. A car cut in front of us, even though he had a yield, causing the bus driver to hit the brakes. I watched the car swing out into the next lane. The driver was multitasking. Between being on his phone, he was eating and turning the steering wheel.
I watched this driver slow to a crawl and roll down his window before he dropped his crumbled up napkin onto the road. The window remained down as he hit the gas and the car sped around to the other side of the square.
Blocking traffic, he jumped out and grabbed a bag from his trunk. He handed it over to one of the market workers and then went on his way.
I watched the entire exchange play out as the guy drove off like he had no cares in the world. To be honest it bothered me greatly. I saw the napkin in the middle of the road and others like it along the corners of the busy street.
Is this what life is like now? Are we too busy to slow down and have some common courtesy? Or is this the new norm?
I would like to say this is a Puglia thing, but I’ve seen it in other places. I wonder to myself, are we part of the problem or part of the solution?