When last we left our intrepid lost soul, I was in need of a doctor and some medications. Having the doctor’s hours, I went that day and waited, arriving a little before he was supposed to show up. He arrived and we talked for a few minutes. He looked up the medication and said that usually it could only be prescribed by a specialist, which he wasn’t. He talked to the pharmacy in the building and did, in fact, give me a prescription after all. He very kindly didn’t charge me for the visit, for which I was deeply grateful, though I had been prepared to pay cash and deal with filing an insurance claim with the VA’s foreign medical program. I’m really glad I haven’t had to deal with that just yet.
I went next door to the pharmacy and dropped off the prescription. They didn’t have exactly what I needed in stock, but said to come back late the next morning and pick it up. I am now the relieved possessor of a 15-day supply of my antidepressants, which will get me back to Seattle to deal with the VA pharmacy, mailing addresses, and all the rest of that mess. I also got a haircut, so it’s up out of my eyes finally. That’s a relief, because it was very annoying.
My first gas/electric bill came in the mail last week, as well. My brother said it was a pretty reasonable amount (around €125 for the last two months), and that he’d seen some Americans come up with bills of over €1,000 because they were using power like they were still in the US. I will admit I’m uncertain whether this is the real amount or whether it was an estimate, given that apparently they don’t actually read the meter but a couple of times a year, if I was understanding the situation correctly. If you use more or less than their estimates, you either get a bill, or you can attempt to pry a refund out of them. Gods only know what the reconciling bill will look like if for some reason I’m using more than I think. I haven’t really had the heat on except the first couple of weeks of February, and I don’t have the lights on except at night or when it’s really dim. The computer’s on most of the time because I’m actually using it. Anyway, it was a reasonable amount, and I’ll find out later if I’m going to have a heart attack or not.
A lot of bills here get paid at the post office. They apparently also have accounts like a bank, for payment of bills and shipping and other such things. I knew I was going to have to brave the post office at some point. The main post office in Trieste is on Via Roma, opposite Piazza Vittorio Veneto. It’s a huge building, and the tourist map of Trieste says there’s a postal museum in there. It wouldn’t surprise me. The windows for paying bills and getting stamps and such are up a set of stairs on the first floor. I took a number, but there was no actual line and so I was immediately able to go up to the window. Being the sort who wants to be prepared, I’d already sorted the amount I needed from the bill and pulled exact change out of my pocket. The guy at the window took it and then started saying numbers at me. I was kind of thrown and he was speaking too fast for me to quite follow. I realized after a moment that I hadn’t given him enough, but couldn’t figure out quite what I’d done wrong. I told him that I didn’t have much Italian, so he showed me the receipt – the post office puts a surcharge on paying the bill, so I owed him about €1.30 for that. Easy enough to fix once I knew what was going on, but I was kind of embarrassed that I had missed it. Next time I’ll know, and will allow for that for the water bill when it arrives, as well.
Having slain the postal dragon with only a small amount of angst and anxiety, I tackled trying to get a pair of shoes, as I wanted something more comfy for walking than what I have. I tried my luck at one of the little stores nearby that carries a lot of everything. I found a pair that mostly fit, and got them, but they were mostly plastic and not terribly comfortable. Returning them was out of the question, so that was a waste. I did mention the whole mess to the folks at the American library. Denise mentioned that there is a Foot Locker on Corso Italia, noting that they were expensive, but that at least one person there spoke English. I wandered over and spent more money (not as much as I’d expected, though) on a pair of shoes that fit properly and are comfortable.
Amidst all this dashing about, I saw that one of the Italian furniture chain stores was having a 70%-off sale. They are expensive, but the quality is good, and I desperately need chairs and a small sofa for the library, so that I have places for people to sit when they come to see me. I wandered over to see what they had, and found some things that I liked. The prices were good but required me to go back to my place to check the balances on my credit cards to see if I had enough. It looked good, so I went over and got a chair and a small sofa, expecting to pay the entire amount up front.
No, they wanted a deposit, but the items would be delivered in June and it would be cash on delivery when they arrived. It was quite a feat doing the paperwork for it all. They needed to see my ID (at this point my passport) and my Codice Fiscale, they wanted my address in the US (I had to give them my APO box), and several other things. I was a little confused, but we managed. On getting home, I pondered for a bit and realized that I actually could afford to get the second chair, so I went back the next day and added that to the order. I’m squirreling away the cash for the items so it will be available when the delivery arrives, sometime in June.
Amidst all of this, I have been trying to talk to people in Italian. Most of them respond in English, if they have it, when it becomes obvious that I don’t have much Italian. I know that I need to speak it more if I’m going to get better at it, so I continue with my mangled bits as best I can.
I have, at several points, mentioned to people that I’m going back to Seattle soon to get my dog. It’s amazing how people light up when I say this. Dogs are everywhere in Trieste, water bowls on the sidewalks outside many businesses, dogs in restaurants, dogs in grocery stores, dogs in the piazza. Triestinos love their dogs. I’m looking forward to having the little guy here. I’m leaving in about a week and nervous already about flying, and about flying him, though I’m eager to see everyone back in Seattle.
This week, two poems written for Slippery Elm’s anthology. It feels good to get things down on paper.