Monday, November 8, 2010


Been in Sicily the past few days, visiting my daughter, who lives here. Thank heavens for Sicilian food. The food is a constant reminder that Sicilians are not demons from the planet Urpton come to destroy earth by driving around with their heads removed.

After 2 days of Sicilian traffic, I am ready to begin slashing tires on every single vehicle near me, purely out of a sense of self-preservation. Let me be more precise. My plan is that, before I drive, I want to go out and slash the tires of everyone within a 10-block radius, so that I don't have to scream and cry like a baby out of sheer animal terror the first few minutes of each commute.

Driving in Sicily I suddenly understand why zombies never die, and there is an inexhaustible supply of them. It's because the producers of zombie movies lived in Sicily, and had to drive here each day. The peculiar horror of zombie movies - "where do they all come from? what do they want? why can't I kill them?" - actually originated with Sicilian drivers. The producers of zombie films perceived that the rest of the world would not believe their Sicilian driving stories, so they cloaked them with much more credible, down to earth plot devices, like West Indian voodoo tales of the un-dead rising to feed on the bowels of the living.

Typical Sicilian Driver Photo Credit

By the way, remind me never, ever to make a sarcastic comment about U.S. Postal Service employees again. Ever. My daughter and I went to the Post Office in town yesterday morning to mail a letter. One hour and 15 minutes after we entered the post office, after waiting in line behind 2 people, we emerged, letter mailed.

The guy immediately in front of us had 6 letters to mail. Let me tell you about that.

I commented to my daughter, after 25 minutes of watching "6 letter guy" (I'll call him "6," for short) get "served," that the U.S. could arm and launch a nuclear warhead faster than this. She nodded in agreement. She actually knows about such things. At one point the post-mistress left the poor guy standing there for 15 minutes. No news on where she went, or why. As far as I could see, he just had 6 letters. No special colored paper, no special boxes. Just 6 letters.

I am not kidding; I am not making this up; I am not exaggerating. I kept checking my watch, in disbelief.

At one point during the 35-40 minutes lavished on "6," a small old Sicilian man came up and began screaming at the post-mistress. Apparently he had little sticker #10 in his hand, and Mr. "6" had sticker #11. My daughter and I held sticker #13. For a fleeting moment I actually felt sorry for the post-mistress. She sent "6" back to stand with us, and waited on the little screaming Sicilian man. It was after she got done with Little Screamer that she disappeared for 15 minutes on "6." Probably had to go smoke a joint or something.

Little Screaming Sicilian Man Photo Credit

The sticker thingies are fascinating. When you come in the P.O. you punch a button on a machine and get a sticker with a number on it. Very much like a deli. At some point during your stay at the P.O. your number will come up on an electronic screen at one of the P.O. windows. You don't know where or when. This is important, because there is no line. There is what looks like a rugby scrum, or a rush for the last boat out of France as the Nazis were taking over in 1940. So the little sticker thingies are actually a survival mechanism for the post-mistresses and the few shell-shocked people in attendance who cannot stomach the idea of trampling or beating another human being to get to a P.O. window.

Absent the sticker thingies, tramplings and beatings would be the order of the day. Much like the traffic right outside the door. The mangled, lifeless bodies of two people were scraped off the highway outside the P.O. in the 1:15 we waited. (I made this last sentence up. Sorry. I had to exaggerate something. It was too stressful remaining entirely factual.

So the sticker thingies represent, not a triumph of civilization, but a brave and lonely voice of civilization in a culture that veers frighteningly close to the "tohu bohu" mentioned in Genesis 1. Except, of course, for their food, which I mentioned. The food is highly organized, varied, delicious, and reminds one there is a God in heaven and he will return in glory.

As for our post-mistress, when she re-emerged she was much slower than when she started with "6." Which I wouldn't have thought possible, except I saw it all with my own eyes.

I've decided that as between the Post Office on ludes and the headless zombie Sicilian drivers on methamphetamine, I will choose the headless zombies. I would prefer someone else kill me than to take my own life.

I'm beginning to understand the stressed out tone my daughter's voice has when she calls home.


  1. I'm glad to hear there are actually worst post offices than our local one. It makes it a little more bearable when I'm waiting 10th on line for a stamp.