Today was our 41st wedding anniversary. We had a wonderful day, exploring and learning new things. We had made arrangements for a special evening, dinner and a concert. After dinner we were waiting to go into the church about 45 minutes ahead of when the concert was going to start. Just in front of us, three ladies were very upset with the woman at the desk, handling the tickets. The term ladies is a loose definition because we were able to hear everything that was being said. We weren’t being nozy, they were just very loud.
They wanted to come into the show but didn’t have a reservation. They insisted that the woman put three more chairs into the room so they could attend. The ticket-taker said that the room was set up for the best experience for the attendees and she could only accommodate those who had pre-booked a seat. In a huff, one of the ladies said to the others, “Well I guess we are not very welcome here.” Out they stormed.
The event had been promoted as a “Buy your tickets in advance” event, so if the ladies learned about the event and wanted to attend, I don’t know why they didn’t know they needed to make arrangements ahead of arriving at the door.
It is a much better idea to learn what is expected. We try to discover “the lay of the land” when we are somewhere that is not familiar. Even if those ladies had just read the information available, it would have been more pleasant for everyone.
Those three ladies had no idea who they were disrespecting this evening.
The woman at the counter and her husband are the organizers and promoters of these small concerts at a beautiful Florence church. All of the proceeds from the ticket sales are donated to a charity project for children in South India. They have sent over 100,000 euros to this home and school over many years. This talented couple have made it their life’s work through their St. Marks Opera Company, to help relieve the suffering of many many children while sharing beautiful music with concert attendees.
This situation tonight was in stark contract to what happened when we took Nick to see Phil Coulter, one of his favorite artists last year in a similar small church in Ireland. Arden phoned the promoter ahead of time to talk about accessibility for Nick and his wheelchair. She said not to worry, that it would be all right on the day. That is a common saying in Ireland, but it turns out to be true. They were expecting us and we were prepared and it was a magical night for Nick, one that he still talks about.
Here is a list of a few things that we have learned in the 30 hours we have been in Florence.
You can sit at a sidewalk cafe and eat dinner at 11 pm. The restaurant was still open when we left at midnight.
You can attend an opera in a small venue and hear amazingly talented young signers, standing just a few feet away from you.
Incredible art surrounds you. Expressions of great artists are everywhere the eye can see, even on the street itself. We stood for awhile and watched two artists, painting the street, transforming that stained, uneven surface into a masterpiece.
The streets are for people and sometimes for vehicles.
You can drink water, wash your face and freshen up your hair. from the same street side drinking fountain.
We watched a couple of people do this.
Gelato is wonderful and available everywhere.
One thing that is the same, their spring weather is as unpredictable as Seattle. We had overcast skies, rain showers, humid muggy weather, beautiful sunshine and cool breezes, all within a couple of hours.
Florentians are very kind and helpful, especially when you are polite yourself.
I am concerned when I hear stories of others who traveled to a foreign country and expected it to be just like home. One of the advantages of embarking on the adventure of foreign travel is that you get to experience other cultures with different customs than yours. These situations broaden your world and they often create delightful bonds with other people who are not just like you. Noticing the differences also allows us to recognize what is the same. The world truly becomes a small place then.
Let’s stop jumping to conclusions and start learning about others more often than we commonly do. I prefer to look for and discover the incredible things that others are doing. This makes my life more enjoyable.