I had three amazing “firsts” in my life in the past few weeks which dealt with trust. Well, I guess after the first one, it would be second and third…oh well.
I have met many kind and wonderful people since moving to Lucca and find it difficult to rush when I’m in a hurry because I have so many people stopping me to chat or play with the dogs. I always say ciao to the people I see daily and a few of these include the owners of my favorite gelateria, my neighbor who works really hard all day lugging cement bags to and from his truck; the guy on the corner who sells tourist souvenirs near the Anfiteatro, all the people I see in the shops near my home, and a little old man who walks with his little old wife who is on crutches. Two of my experiences were with the shop owners in the Anfiteatro.
I recently went into Mywalit and found a small shoulder bag that was the exact type and color I had been searching for! I was shopping with a friend and asked the clerk if she would hold it for me until the next day when I could return with the money to purchase it. She told me to just take it with me and bring her the money when I was in her shop again!
Then, I went to another shop, Le Sorrelle, because I kept admiring a tablecloth that was in the window. I brought a pillow and some other items that I wanted to match it with into the shop and the store owner told me to take as many of the tablecloths as I wanted upstairs with me and keep them for a few days to see which one I preferred.
However, the ultimate experience I had with trust was when I walked into an eyeglass shop to look for sunglasses. I was returning from a long walk with my friend and stopped in looking grubby and probably smelling worse. I had never met or even seen anyone in the shop before.
I told the owner that I needed prescription sunglasses but couldn't remember what my prescription was. She immediately sat me down in the chair to conduct an eye exam. I explained that I didn’t have any money with me because I hadn’t planned to stop and she just waved her hand at me and said I didn’t need any.
After the very lengthy exam, she wrote out a prescription for me. I stared at it in disbelief and asked her how much I owed her. She said I didn’t owe her anything. I asked her if I could look at some sunglasses and she took me downstairs and put contact lenses in my eyes so I could actually see what I looked like when trying them on! That had never happened to me before and I always had to rely on the store clerk or my friends to tell me if I looked good or didn’t.
Then, after I found the perfect pair and got the quote for them I asked how long they were open so I could run home and get my money to give them a deposit. She and her son, the gorgeous optometrist, looked at me curiously and he wrote the hours on the back of their business card. I told them I would return immediately with the money and they said, “You don’t need any. They’ll be ready for you on Monday. You can pay us then.”
Now tell me, when would that EVER happen in the States?
It is so nice to get back to basics and have people actually trust you to be an honest person and not rip them off.
Other cool things that happened or will be happening:
I got a wonderful job doing marketing for Mywalit in Lucca. I bought a wallet and some other products from them in September 2005 and have been a frequent customer every time I've returned. Now, I try my best to keep out of the shop. However, since my friend Katinka works there I stop in often. It will be easy to market their products because I am a huge fan.
I went with my friend Terry to Barga and the Garfagnana a few weeks ago and had a wonderful time. When we returned to our car in Barga, we actually ran into an Italian Barney Fife! Seriously! He was this skinny cop with his hands on his gun belt and a hat on his head directing traffic. He had the same attitude and everything! It was hilarious.
Terry and I went to a place that I've wanted to visit for almost three years - Il Giardino dei Tarocchi! It was absolutely beautiful. There were giant sculptures in beautiful leaded glass and ceramic of all the major arcana of the Tarot deck. My favorite was The Empress where the artist, Niki de Saint Phalle, lived for the 19 years it took her to complete the garden.
I had dinner with Katinka and her husband at their lovely home at the tip-top of a mountain overlooking all of Lucca. I saw so many fireflies during dinner that it was just like having Christmas all over again. The little white lights were flickering all around us. Dinner was spectacular, too.
This weekend I will be going with Terry and some other friends to a wine tasting on Friday night in a little mountain community; a cherry festival near Pisa on Saturday (they have festivals for everything in Italy); and a mangia-longa (long eating walk) on Sunday. We literally walk along a designated route and stop all along the way to experience delicious food and beverages. Who ever heard of such a thing?
Oh yes, I have an official local library card and even joined a book club. Life continues to be interesting in Lucca...