A Short Story (or 2)

There is a microscopically thin line between being brilliantly creative and acting like the most gigantic idiot on earth.
~ Cynthia Helmel

I want to tell you a short-short-short story. I lie. I want to tell you mostly because I want to remember it. I’m so tired I might forget it. To tell the truth, I’m going to tell you two short stories. Both are true to the nth degree, and my friend, Stacey, can attest to the first one.

Don’t Use the John If Someone Lets You In As They Come Out

In Italy, the public restrooms in train stations are generally very clean. Most of them have someone whose job it is to keep them clean. You must pay 50 euro cents or one euro to use them, but if you are a germaphobe, you might feel better.

In parts of France, UK, and Italy—including the Orvieto train station, you will find toilets that automatically clean and disinfect themselves when the person who last used it exits. These smart loos even clean the floors (Note the photo below).

Note the line advising the floor cleaning

I was getting cappuccini for Stacey and me this morning when I heard a very loud female (Do I have to say she was American?) describe how a woman let her into the loo so she didn’t have to pay, and once she was in it, the cleaning process began. Apparently, the. water got all over her. She was quite livid. I thought it pretty hilarious that karma got her for trying to avoid paying a whole 50 euro cents to use a clean bathroom.

At any rate, she happened to be taking the same train to Roma as I, so she was on the platform divulging her tale to anyone who dared stand near her. Since I am never in the mood to deal with idiots, I walked to the other end of the platform to wait. As it was, I could still hear her voice cut through the air. Shortly, an elderly mother and her adult son sat down on the bench near me.

“I’m glad you decided to walk down here,” the mom said.

The son whispered, “I didn’t want to listen to her any longer.” I thought he probably didn’t want me to hear.

“Not that I’m trying to listen,” I laughed, “but that’s the reason I’m down here, too.” Mom asked me if the woman had told me the story. “She’s telling anyone who has ears the story,” I replied. We all laughed and then said a Novena for the poor, quiet woman who was her companion.


Safely checked in and ensconced in my Rome hotel, I decided to walk to the Mercato Centrale at Roma Termini to have a late lunch. On the way, I saw a great little store and ducked in for a few minutes. The clerk and I talked a bit, and I walked toward the other room of the store because I saw a skirt that I wanted to look at.

The skirt

As I walked toward it, my eyes were on the skirt, but I out of the corner of my eye, I saw another woman walking out of that room. “Pregho,” I said to her and waved my arm to invite her to pass in front of me.

The “other woman”

Only then did I look up and notice that there was no other room nor other woman. There was only a mirror, and I had invited myself to to pass in front of me. The clerk and I had a good laugh, and she told me she used to try to walk into that room when she first started working there. I’m not sure if that was true or if she was trying to make me feel better, but we had a good laugh.

I never did look at that skirt, though.

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