by Melinda Gallo

Pacchi da pagare

As I put the key into the door of our apartment building yesterday, I heard someone call out, "Gallo Melinda." When I turned around, I saw my postina (postwoman) on her motorino coming up behind me. "Ho un pacco per te. Devi pagare qualcosa però, I have a package for you. You have to pay something though," she said. She flashed me a piece of paper with my name and the amount due. It seemed high until I saw the breakdown of the expenses for the dogana (customs) and the additional 20% IVA (tax) on the amount declared on the pacco (package).

The postina and I cross paths once in a while, and when we do, ci salutiamo (we greet each other). Over the past year, she has rang my campanello (bell) a few times to call me to go down to get the mail or pacco that doesn't fit in the narrow slit for the mail in our door downstairs. But, I didn't think she remembered my name, which is why I was surprised to hear her call out to me when she saw me at my door.

When the postina handed me my pacco after I paid her, she told me that she has another one to bring me the next day. "Sarai a casa domani a quest'ora? Will you be at home tomorrow around this time?" she asked. "Sì, ci vediamo domani Yes, we'll see each other tomorrow," I said as she drove off on her motorino, waving to me.

Today, I peeked out the window to see if the postina was in my street yet. She generally comes by at the same time every day. When I saw her making her way toward our building, I quickly put on my giubbotto (jacket) and rushed downstairs with my portafoglio (wallet) and chiavi (keys) in hand.

I opened the door as she was walking toward me. "Che brava sei You're good," she said. She pulled out the pacco from her bauletto (case on the back of the scooter), and handed it to me. While I looked at the pacco, she gave me a piece of paper to sign where the amount due was written on it.

"Di dove sei? C'hai un nome italiano, Gallo. Where are you from. You have an Italian name, Gallo," she said. I explained that I was from California and that my nonni (grandparents) were Italian. "Ah...sapevo. C'è sempre un italiano in mezzo. Ah...I knew it. There's always an Italian in the mix." She talked to me about how there are only 55 million Italians in Italy, but so many other Italians have immigrated to countries like the US, Australia, and Argentina.

"Tanti auguri! Best wishes!" we both said to each other almost simultaneously after I had finished paying her and handed her the piece of paper.

I ran upstairs to open my pacco, and was happy when I saw that it was a Christmas present for Alessandro and me from my sister and her family. I always find it odd that we have to pay duty on gifts, but I guess if people put the amount of the contents in the pacco it somehow makes sense. Otherwise everyone would say it's a gift.

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