June 4, 2013

A tale of shoes and two cities?

The Intervention

After a day of dwelling on my pitiful financial state, my lack of job prospects, the ten or so kilos I need to shift (so I can squeeze into my job interview onesie), and my bewildered state of wondering: Where to from here? -  I've held an intervention in the kitchen. Present were: me, dog features, and a whiteboard. Together we sorted the good, from the bad and the ugly.

The bad and ugly can look after themselves.

And - I've concluded, there are some good things about my unemployed disposition.
I like being able to "stop and smell the roses" everywhere I go.

Also, I can take on the idiosyncracies of slow food movement followers in Italy, and extend the task to slow food shopping. There's also the pleasure of having the time to converse and chat with local shopkeepers, and other "slow shoppers" I come across.

Neighbourhood watch

In the street where I live, I've become the neighbourhood-watcher on the cast iron balcony.  I'm in tune with the rhythm of each neighbour's arrivals and departures. 

And, I'm no longer the stranger who, during my golden age of employment - would zip to and from my garage, 9 to 5 - oblivious to my immediate surroundings.

On one strange day a few months back, I was grateful for my unemployed disposition, when a midday visit to my parent's house, coincided with a visit by a con man. 

Yes a real live con man. He was a little on the skinny side .....And, not quite George Clooney in Ocean's 11 (damn it!) - but a con man all the same.

As family, I'd entered the house, from the rear unannounced - with the dog bounding in ahead of me. Inspector Rex had jumped up and startled this "international visitor" just as my mother excitedly announced: "Carmen look who we have here! Guess who this is?!"

Manolo Blahnik, I presume?

And there he was, a slick looking Italian Romeo, appearing quite at home, seated comfortably in their lounge-room.

I surmised he was their friend who, now and then, delivered peaches from up the bush.

To be polite, I did the normal Italian thing - embraced him and kissed him on both cheeks, as I looked around the room for the box of peaches.  As you do.

This fluent Italian speaker, was smartly dressed, and groomed - and maybe forty years old? 

He explained that he was my Italian cousin Gabriella's husband, that he'd just arrived from Italy (where they lived in Genoa) and was in Australia solo, to attend to some "business".
We were convinced he was "family". As you do. 

And I recall thinking: How lovely it was, that young Gabriella had found herself a suave looking partner, involved "in business" - such a difficult task these days ... for anyone.

It was a good-hair day for the family unemployee

And I was glad I'd gone to my parents place dressed as a "normal" responsible? civilian, instead of wearing my comfy unemploymentista's dress du jour - being pyjamas styled to look like I'd got dressed. Sad and pathetic, but true. In fact, on that topic, my wardrobe now boasts five! dressing gowns. One for every (non)working day of the week. How disgusting, you may say reader! ....And no wonder she's still so unemployed! But sometimes,  frankly, that's as good as it gets. I digress.

I asked Romeo what "the business" was?

Leather handbags and shoes. Why of course it was! Gosh was I impressed.

"How marvellous and appropriate!"  I thought.  I couldn't afford to travel to Italy (or even the Victorian Market), but who cared, this time - leather bags and shoes - had come to me! And, Romeo said that Gabriella would arrive from Italy during the next two weeks.

In the meantime, he would visit Sydney to film a commercial. As you do.  After that, he said  we could all meet up again - before they returned to Italy.

The plot curdles

I remember telling Romeo, how I would also like to fly to Italy, next week even? .....but that I didn't have il soldi.  And just like an old family friend, he replied: "But of course you can, your Papa will give you il soldi, and then you can go!"

"Papa" and I thought: WHAT? Not likely. In Australia (despite the government's thrilling economic forecasts) il soldi is not handed out "just like that" by mammas and papas - to enable their unemployable off-spring, to go in viaggio to the old country.  And so, the seeds of suspicion were planted.

He drove a black shiny automobile

"Papa" went outside to farewell "our relative" and see him off. I watched them chatting animatedly, as they stood beside Romeo's shiny black SUV.

When my father returned, he said the guy was a crook. He says that about most people, so I didn't pay much attention to this.

The gentleman vanishes

However, it seems, "papa's" Agatha Christie-Hercule Poirot watching habit, had paid off. 

For Romeo had wanted a substantial loan  of some money, almost as much I would earn on the Newstart Allowance, during a single financial year! Cheeky bugger. Alas, when "papa" asked questions, to clarify things - Romeo quickly got into his SUV and sped off. Toute suite.

One telephone call to Gabriella's mother in Italy confirmed she was not married. Had no husband (ex or otherwise).  A subsequent email from them, confirmed our shoe and handbags man was in fact .....AN IMPOSTER!

Questions remain concerning what led this slimy con artist to my parent's home, in the first place?

Being a lapsed-librarian unemploymentista, with time on my hands, and a burning desire to be the neighbourhood's 21st century Ms Marple  - I naturally consult Google. This reveals a report of a similar scenario  occurring, several weeks back in South Australia.

I take my findings to the local police.

When the inspector asks me if I have a copy of my "googling", I proudly hand over my print-out.

It was a bad day for Manolo Blahniks - but a good day for the idle unemployed.

And I continue now, with added gusto, being the neighbourhood watcher on the cast iron balcony. 

I trust no-one. Not even Italian made shoes.

The scenario showed how easily, on a fine sunny day, we can all be tricked by masters of deception, whether they are online, or right there - in your Facebook.


The story continues, Herald Sun 2014

Unemployment and job seeking in Italy (from Anglofile.com)

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