At that time we lived in Lido di Ostia and were waiting for American visas.
One gorgeous sunny day I went to the Central post office in Rome to get correspondence from the Soviet Union (only our parents were brave enough to send us letters).
A smiling postal worker looked at my ID and disappeared.
When I saw him again he was not smiling. He told me something in very fast and unfriendly Italian and all people around started to laugh.
Then the guy gave me 4 letters and I turned to leave.
Somebody said in English: “Wait, wait!.Prepare yourself!”
Six large same size wooden parcels appeared on the counter. The weight of each was 11 kg.
It was a huge heavy surprise! I could not carry more than one parcel at any moment but I had to transfer six of them to the railroad station in Rome. Then I had to bring them to our apartment in Lido di Ostia (it was 17 blocks from the station).
There was just one small problem. I had only a train ticket to Lido di Ostia and a handkerchief in my pockets. No money at all!
I had to improvise, to think about logistics.
So I took the first parcel, made 20 large steps and placed it on the floor. Then I took one by one 4 other parcels and put them one upon another. Finally I went to the counter, took the last parcel, went to its brothers and sisters but did not put it down.
I made again 20 large steps and only then put it on the floor. Then I returned for five other parcels.
Everyone in the post office was enjoying my approach to problem solving. I suspect that none of them had so much fun the rest of their lives.
It took me only five 20 steps’ moves to get out from the post office’s building.
Sunny warm Rome greeted me and the six parcels.
I had hours to think about people and life that day.
Yes, initially I thought about leaving five parcels near the post office. But curiosity won. “What could be in these parcels? Are they important for our survival?”
In an hour I remembered an old movie. It featured energetic, innovative Italian robbers who did almost impossible tricks to relieve foreign tourists of their burdens.
I was moving parcels from one spot to another and I thought: “Where are you, robbers? You don’t need any experience! Just come and take parcels! Help me!”
When I reached the railroad station I placed all parcels near a men’s room and went inside. I spent a lot of time washing my face and hands and hoping for a miracle. Finally I went out. All parcels were waiting for me!
It was easy to bring parcels in the car as the train was leaving in 15 minutes.
One station before Lido di Ostia I loudly asked passengers if anybody understood English. No response!
I had to act. To use my knowledge of Italian.
I shouted: “Mamma mia!”
All passengers looked at me.
Then I shouted: “Bambino!” and showed how hungry a child was.
Several people cautiously approached me. Train started to slow down.
Then I shouted: “Pronto!” and picked up one parcel. Warmhearted Italians picked all others. The train stopped and we left it. All parcels were put on the platform and passengers returned in the car. I showed a sign of victory and shouted: “Grazie!”
…It was dark when I knocked on the door of our apartment. My wife looked at me and did not say a word. She brought a glass of cold orange juice and a bottle of vodka.
I asked our son to get out and to bring in the parcels.
“What could it be in them?”
To be continued.