Wednesday, April 23, 2008

La Banca

Today started off well. It's the first sunny warm day since I've been here, and I was full of energy during the morning rehearsal. It wasn't put to great use as I was just sitting there, but I was enjoying listening to two of my colleagues discuss in italian the vocal technique used for singing coloratura. I also had to laugh at the fact that Italians, and it seems europeans in general, are very cold. I don't mean cold as in mean, I mean cold as in body temperature. In the states, I am someone who is always complaining that it's too cold, but here, I am usually the only person in rehearsals not dressed for the arctic tundra. The first day of rehearsal, they all had down coats and scarves wrapped around their heads - I'm not exaggerating, and the temperature actually seemed pretty normal to me. It's probably 70 degrees today, and as I was walking around, I was noticing that unlike in new york, where at the first sign of spring people are practically in their bathing suits, people were still wearing dark jackets and scarves. I was walking around in a t-shirt and sweating, and I ran into the bass who was wearing a sweater and a long wool coat. 

But I digress. The main story today has to be about my misadventures in banking. About a week ago, I was sent to the woman in charge of things like visas and payments to give her all my information and the receipts for my travel. She handed me a paper with a map of where the bank was, and told me I'd be able to pick up my travel reimbursement sometime the following week (which would be this week). I have literally tried and failed to get to the bank every day this week. Monday I walked along the street I thought it was on in both directions but never came upon it. Yesterday I convinced my friend Vincnezo to come help me find it. I hadn't brought the map, but I remembered the names of the two streets where it was supposed to be on the corner. Before we left he asked "what bank is it?" and I replied "I can't remember the name, but I know what corner it's on." He was intelligent enough to ask someone which bank was the company bank before we left, and I realized when we arrived he'd needed to ask because literally all the banks in Italy are on this particular corner. I don't know why they're all clustered together, but apparently it's because it creates a little financial district or something. However, when we arrived at the bank, which we were told by someone was the Banca di Roma, they were, or course, closed for lunch. 

But at least now I knew where it was and how to get there from the theater, so today I set out alone, after the lunch hours (opens at 2:30) but before the closing time of 4:10. It's about a 15 minute walk from the theater, but it was such a nice day that I didn't mind. When I arrived, hooray, the Banca di Roma was open! The first thing about it that was weird was that it was very high security like, and there were two sets of glass doors through which I had to be buzzed by someone behind another glass partition. This took a minute to figure out, I sort of stood there lamely for a minute before I realized I had to push a button before she pushed a button that let me in. I went up to the counter and in pre-rehearsed phrases, I explained to the teller that I was a singer at the Teatro Regio and that they should have some money for me at the bank. He looked at me blankly and didn't know what I was talking about. "Are you the bank for the Teatro Regio?" Some talking amongst him and his colleagues occurred, and he told me no, the Regio bank was the Banco Credito, just out side and to the right. I guess who ever told Vincenzo and I the name had just been mistaken. No problem!

Undaunted I exited the high security glass partitions and went outside to look for the other bank. There were like 5 other banks on that corner but none of them were called Banco Credito. Had I just misheard him? He said go out and to the right, so I went out and to the right and found myself in front of the Banco Nationale. This must be it, I thought, so I tried to go in. Instead of two sets of glass doors, they had some revolving doors which moved on their own, and which allowed me to get in them, but lodged me in no-mans-land, and wouldn't let me out. I finally wrestled my way out and tried again, and got stuck again. An older man behind me went in the other set of revolving doors fine, so I just pushed mine (even though they said NON SPINGERE in big red letters), and made it in. After waiting in line, I explained who I was and asked if this was the bank for the Teatro Regio. He asked a few people just to be sure, but said, no it wasn't. So I went outside and tried one more bank, and they said that no, they weren't the Teatro Regio bank either. 

It was 3:40, and knowing the banks close at 4:10, I figured I would just have time to walk back to the theater, get another piece of paper telling me exactly which bank I should be looking for, hurry back, and get in before they closed. I couldn't go in every single bank and ask them if they were the Teatro Bank because I was beginning to feel like a idiot. 

So I hot-footed it back to the theater office, and after forgetting which floor I was supposed to go to for the admin office, I finally found the woman who had originally given me the map and explained that I had forgotten it and needed a new one. She said "Oh yes, I just got the approval to release your funds to the bank today. It should be ready by next tuesday." Oooooookay, I'm glad I just took the tour of half the banks in Torino for nothin', I thought, but didn't say, mostly because I don't know how to say that in Italian. She gave me a new map, and told me the name of the Bank is Banco Unicredito, which I SWEAR was not one of the 36 banks on that corner. But I guess I'll have to find out next tuesday, if I make it there before they close that day. 

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