by Melinda Gallo

Long days and late nights in Rome

After working almost eleven hours last Friday, the CEO invited us and a few other people from the company to dinner and a show at one of his hotels in southern Rome. We didn't leave the office until about 9PM. Since the office is in the north and the CEO's hotel is in the south, one of the other guys at the company drove all five of us down.

We walked down the stairs to the restaurant at the hotel and found about 200 people inside. Large tables of people talking, laughing, and eating were laid out in front of the small stage.

Dave and I both had a gin and tonic while we waited for the CEO and his friend to arrive: we all felt it would be rude to wait sitting down at the table. As soon as they arrived, we sat down at our table. From the moment we sat down, waiters in white suits brought us plate after plate of food. There were so many plates on the table that we had to combine some of the plates just to accommodate the new ones.

We started with two seafood platters and a variety of different antipasti (appetizers), like fried vegetables and seafood. Enzo told the chef he wanted us to have seafood and meat, but they only made seafood. Dave, who only likes sushi and rarely eats seafood, didn't eat much of the antipasti.

?When the CEO noticed that Dave ate some of the bread and only a few pieces of the fried vegetables, he asked him if everything was OK. I had to tell the CEO that he didn't like seafood. He quickly called over the head waiter and told him to get Dave whatever he wants. We narrowed it down to a steak since they never showed us a menu. Very shortly after, Dave's steak and french fries appeared.

The CEO asked me if I wanted some pasta, but I didn't want any if no one else was going to order any. He ordered us all spaghetti allo scoglio (seafood pasta), which is my favorite. I ate up everything on my plate and thought for sure that was the end of the meal.

Then, the CEO asked me if I wanted anything else, "Una frittina?" (A small plate of fried food). I couldn't resist; I love fried anything. I wasn't sure what it was going to be until I saw calamari fritti, another one of my favorites.

"Un dolce?" (A dessert), he asked me. As if I could resist. I was beyond sazia (full). But, one can always find room for a dolce. I ordered the sorbetto al limone (lemon sorbet).

While we were eating dessert, there were a few musicians who sang together and then a couple came out to do some stand-up comedy.

The CEO's friend Alessandra, who is an inviata (correspondent) for a daily Italian television show, was asked to sing a song and she invited Dave to sing with her. She chose "Hotel California," which she said was one of her favorites. The two of them sang to the entire restaurant over the microphone from their seats. Alessandra didn't want to go up on stage. We didn't find out until later that the Alessandra was a former singer.

The CEO turned to me and said, "Vuoi un mojito?" (Do you want a mojito). I'm not a big fan of after dinner drinks, but while I was thinking about it, he called the head waiter and told him to get us one mojito for everyone.

The CEO and Alessandra left after we finished up our drinks. The CEO was very gracious: shaking our hand and telling us that he was looking forward to seeing us next week. When they put on the music and people began to dance on the dance floor, we all decided to leave.

During the drive back, I noticed that all the cars around to us seemed to be going so slow. I looked up at the speedometer and noticed that he was going 180 kilometers/hour, which is about 110 mph. In Italian standards, that's fast, but not excessive. I didn't want to panic, but I was sitting in the middle seat in the back without a seat belt on.

When we got home, we went straight to bed. I see why we never worked in Italy before: all the long days of work, late nights, and huge meals could really come back to haunt us.

So far we've only been here two days and we're working just as much as last week, but just not going out at night. We were supposed to go out last night for dinner, but they weren't going to leave until about 10PM. We didn't feel like waiting, so we went back to the hotel for dinner and afterwards I took a bath. For me that's the best way to end a long day of work.

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