“Are you going to keep me here as a prisoner?” Renzo asks.
As a senior citizen, my father-in-law qualifies for a reduced rate public transportation card. We’re destined for a date with city hall today, and the card functions as expected when we board a tram and the subway. Tutto bene.
Upon exiting, you have to swipe out again; I do so and wait for Renzo on the other side of the turnstile, but his light keeps beeping red, preventing his departure. He swipes again. Again. And again. About 20 times on six different turnstiles.
I try to point him in the direction of the transportation employees a few feet away but he is defiant. I mirror his steps from The Other Side as he paces back and forth, mumbling to himself. He finally relents (not a verb he’s accustomed to) and walks over to the authorities.
“Who are you people?” Renzo bursts (Disclaimer: bursts in Italian are equivalent to a slightly elevated indoor voice in Minnesota).
“Who are WE?” they retort. Then, it’s a back-and-forth of who are you to deny me exit, who are you to say we can’t, who is your mother, what did you have for breakfast, word to your nonna.
Eventually it comes to light that Renzo’s special transport card isn’t valid until after 9:30, when rush hour is over. He possesses the so-called “off peak” senior card, which is cheaper than the regular one (sounds like something my papà would do; hi, Dad).
“But nobody told me!”
“We’re telling you now!”
“Why did you let me come in then but not out?! Are you going to keep me here as a prisoner?”
They seem to realize this discussion could go on for another 20 minutes and decide to open the gate for him. Renzo passes through, continuing to grumble but also admitting to me, out of earshot, “They could’ve given me a fine, but they didn’t.”
“But I didn’t know,” he continues for several blocks as we walk to city hall. “How was I supposed to know? But that’s stupid.”
We cross a piazza and are almost at our destination.
“Now that I think of it,” he pauses, “maybe I did know that I couldn’t travel at that time. Remind me next time, Christina.”