Cassy's Corner- The Unexpected
I arrived in Italy on Sunday. As I have said before, it's one of my all time favorite places. We have a house here, so coming and going is reasonably simple. Or so I thought until last night.
I haven't made it to the grocery store yet, which translates to very little food on hand. Jet lagged and a little foggy in the brain, I decided that I'd go up the hill to a tiny trattoria I enjoy. Mensano is a town that maybe, just maybe has 150 people living there. There is one tiny restaurant (don't try and buy bread or milk anywhere in town- doesn't exist). But, the restaurant has a wonderful vegetable soup, perfect for a chilly December evening. They are open seven days a week, except for when they are closed. Last night, no lights were on.
Not a problem, I thought. I know of another spot about 20 minutes away that would be great. After all, I am here alone and always ready for an adventure. Plus a bowl of soup was really what I wanted.
I drove to my next destination. Another local spot that is always open. Again, all the lights were off. Ready to give up on soup and settle for a scrambled egg, I turned the car around in the gravel parking lot. This is a very rural area. No street lights. Few cars passing by. Though, there is the occasional wild animal. And, there is a ditch. A ditch large enough to swallow the front end of my car.
So, create the picture of a tired woman now saying words that no one should be allowed to hear with nearly half of her car nose forward. There was nothing I could do. Before I had time to become even more frustrated with myself a man was knocking on the passenger's window. He quickly stood back when he saw how startled I was, then motioned for me to trust him. Within minutes there were five men surrounding the car.
They pushed, pulled, and shoved my little vehicle but to no avail. I was stuck. In Italy nothing is done without a lot of conversation. I'm not sure if one could accomplish anything without first arguing, discussing and convincing another why your approach is truly the best. My situation was no different. I had five elderly men smoking, yelling, and telling each other how to get my car out of the ditch. Remember all of this is in Italian. My Italian is passable, but wasn't up for this situation. So now add in a lot of gesturing.
One man stomped off, returning with his car and a giant cord. He attached the cord to his car and then argued for a good five minutes as to where it should be tied to my car. Three of the men stood on my car to pull the rear end down. One man pushed from the front. The fifth man drove his car with the cord stretched. I put my car in reverse. "Slowly, slowly," they all yelled, probably fearing that I'd be successful and they'd topple from my roof.
My car screamed as it came out of the ditch. All the men, no one under the age of 70, jumped up and down with pleasure at their success. After we had finished congratulating each other I reached for my wallet. After all they had done, it was the least I could do.
They adamantly refused my offer. The five men were lined up grinning at my car. Hugging is a national past time in this country. So, I thanked each man individually with a hug. The last man gave my cheek a kiss.
In the pitch black with no help in sight, I have no idea where these men came from. They just appeared. I am not sure how they got me out of that ditch. But they did. And I have no way to thank them other than sharing the story and hoping they know how much they mean to me.