The army of the annoying citizens
I have just returned to Hong Kong, after my second business trip to Italy in two months. And only now, four days after my departure from Milano Linate, can I define the feeling that ‘they’ tried to instil into me: to be an annoyance. Yes, to be a source of irritation, of bother, something unwanted, someone to be avoided! Please don’t think about some growing paranoia of mine (OD: a mental condition characterised by delusions of persecution, unwarranted jealousy, or exaggerated self-importance), maybe caused by the bitterness that the evident Italian decline arouses. I want to clarify that my feeling is not related to me as a person, but me as a national, as a citizen who uses the services of the community.
Arriving in Italy, the policeman at the customs, extremely bored and discourteous, could do without checking my passport, it was clear. And I also understood that to offload my luggage from the plane was a great annoyance for the workers, otherwise you couldn’t explain the long waiting time – we were the only flight arriving at that hour and the baggage hall was quite empty. At the airport bar, the set cappuccino + croissant + orange juice now costs seven euros (about fourteen thousand old liras – and ‘they’ still speak about the convenience of the Euro), but you can console yourself by looking at the annoyed face of the waiter who surely considers the clients as grasshoppers ready to stress and spoil his working day.
Of course, they had cancelled the midday flight from the continent to Sardinia, so, coming from Hong Kong, you are obliged to spend the whole day in Milan, waiting for the 8.55 p.m. flight. And don’t bother, please, and hope that next year there will be the same level of service and not less – in fact, other ‘rationalisations’ are in process.
Then the taxi driver expresses all his irritation for the hard life he daily faces (while charging twenty-two euros for a five-minute ride). At the bank, at the post office, at the INPS and at the municipality, the feeling was widely confirmed: everywhere, a citizen is seen as a great annoyance, it is sad but true.
The concept of service in Italy has a historically negative meaning because, during the several invasions of our peninsula, essere al servizio di, to be at the service of the one who happened to be in power was a sign of compliance and acquiescence (in the past). So, usually Italians don’t like to offer their services or rather to feel as though they are at your service, especially if you are not in power. It is a cultural position, not a lazy, opportunistic and arrogant approach; you have to understand. Behind the last junior waiter who is grudgingly preparing your coffee; or the grey bank employee, who is reading your claim with a sardonic smile; or the naïve post office employee, who has duly to accept your parcel, there is our history, – you have to be very careful – and our Rinascimento, our Cappella Sistina, Dante and Petrarca and Michelangelo and Leonardo too. History doesn’t like to be pushed and pulled – it keeps its pace in Italy. And this crowd of citizens asking for something, always asking, every day of the year; they have to calm down and understand that this bureaucratic and political apparatus, this self-serving and self-preserving system, which drives and manages our nation, is not at our service, for god’s sake. I tell you more: not even the parliament is useful, the elections neither. Today, they too are only an obstacle, an annoyance.
But I cannot accept the effort that ‘they’ are doing: to instil into the citizens, especially in the weaker categories, the feeling that they are only an annoyance to this gigantic and hungry structure. Young and unemployed people, patients and sick and poor people, and retirees, and generally everyone who asks for some due service, are exposed to this continuous brainwashing.
The growing crisis is dividing Italy in two: those who work or who belong to a privileged category, and those who are in serious economic difficulty or belong to a needy category. The latter population (not a small percentage, but still twenty or thirty million of people!) is falling back on their own poor resources, lost, hidden, forced to tighten their belts while the public debt is surprisingly reaching the sky.
The first article of our constitution recites: ‘Italy is a democratic republic, which is founded on work.’ Maybe, this is the reason why that unemployed people is only a bother, a pain in the ass.
I think that we have to carry out a cultural battle, yes, not a political one, because politics has already lost its sense in Italy, but strictly cultural: ‘they’ must not win.
I don’t accept to be a source of annoyance for an ignorant, incompetent, corrupt class of people who acts in bad faith. I worked hard all my life paying a monstrous amount of taxes to a state that dilapidated my wealth and my future and forced my family and me to expatriate. And now, every time I return to Italy, still working and investing in the interest of my country, I cannot stand this massive and growing attempt to deny me my rights, starting with a good coffee, a smile and the correct price, to the possibility of easily reaching my land, Sardinia, to the right to receive my entire pension without being robbed. The right to have the heater on in November; efficient transportation; good infrastructures and roads (the speedway SS 131 Carlo Felice from Cagliari to Sassari presents continuous and dangerous works in progress since the beginning of the 1960s!); an effective and winning fight against criminality and corruption; a fair fiscal system; a rapid justice, etc. – usual features of a normal country.
I cannot stand that they cancel the joy of my relatives and friends, the hopes of our young people, and my identity and dignity too.
Let’s refuse to accept that we are an annoyance. Let’s rebel against this class of ignorant saprophytes and discover the values of honesty, solidarity, competence and professionalism again. Let’s restart loving our neighbour and defending the weaker categories! It is a cultural battle that we have to win; we cannot disappear, as we were victims of a general forced euthanasia!