These are Silver and Those are Gold

Tony came home with another new phone today. New to him, at least. His job here includes a cell phone. I’ve never heard of a job in the United States where the company phone wasn’t this year’s model. I mean, there you get a phone for free whenever you switch cell phone companies. You have to really try to keep the same phone for more than two years. And there’s always a chance to “recycle” your old phone in a bin at the grocery store. I don’t know what they do with those recycled phones. Grind them up to make new phones, like old aluminum cans? Give them to people in third-world countries that don’t have cell phones, like old glasses?


At Tony’s job they recycle old phones by handing them down like clothes. His first new phone, a Blackberry-style red samsung, must have been dropped in the bathtub too many times. It was seriously eccentric. When he reported this, everyone was only too happy to volunteer their own phones as replacements. That’s how you get a new phone at his company: successfully pass yours down to a newer employee. But the second phone they tried was so old it wouldn’t hold a charge. The third one seems to be working well, at least for the first day.


Our car runs perfectly too. Its only quirk is that the instrument panel doesn’t work. Tony just keeps track in his head of when he last filled up (free gas at the office. Hooray!), and so far we’ve had no mishaps on that front. I am a little worried about the odometer not working. It’s not always so easy to tell how fast you’re going. And it can be a little confusing to convert kilometers to miles if you’re not paying attention. The speed limit signs can be a little startling too. 60 kilometers is not highway speed. And 100 kilometers doesn’t mean you’re free to drag race. Luckily, there’s always another roundabout to slow you down again, not to mention help you avoid making wrong turns. Just drive round and round the roundabout until you’re sure of which way to go. Nobody else can tell you’re lost because nobody stays in the roundabout long enough to observe you. The only problem is that roundabouts do not mix well with google maps. They make directions twice as hard to follow.


They just don’t throw away things that are perfectly good here. Old things are treasured and valued and repaired, not tossed to make way for something new and shiny. Buildings are a perfect example. They have an absolute fetish for remodeling. On any given street, it seems like the scaffolding just moves from building to building (Tony has become expert at editing scaffolding out of photos of picturesque cityscapes). A remodeled apartment in the old city is far more desirable than a brand new modern one (with parking!) just outside. The happy consequence of all this is that everything here is built to last. It’s much more difficult to buy junk in Italy. Yes, you pay for the quality. But you also think harder about whether you really need to buy things. Perhaps it would be better to spend your time and resources on something even more durable and lasting. Like relationships. On the whole, I think it contributes to a better quality of life.