I try my best not to rant here. Who wants to read a rant? And I often feel guilty for my bitching about Italy, and think I should write a bit more about the things I did and still do love about it. But the fact is that I left because I was sick to the gills of trying to live and do business there. And this is a rant. I can't help it, so bear with me.
I run my own business. I have for years, and I've enjoyed some success and satisfaction. I work from home, usuallly in my pj's with my dog curled up warming my feet. My kids are never home alone, never had to go to daycare or sitters, and they think their Mom's job is pretty cool. I adore learning snippets and details about things I probably would never have known a crumb about if I didn't have this job. I've acquired a small ocean of eclectic knowledge that I enjoy and revel in. I love the Italian language, as I've written here before, and hope that my brain won't whither as quickly as it might if I wasn't working in two languages.
The problem is the Italian way of doing business. Roughly 80% of my clients are Italian. Over the years, I've culled the long suffering, whining, slow paying bunch. While when I first started out I ran my business the Italian way, accepting low rates, incredibly slow payers, impossible deadlines, and plain rudeness, mostly because I didn't know any better, I soon learned to run my business as if I were an American. Maybe the other expats out there can relate to the this. That when in Rome stuff really gets into your head, and soon you begin to forget who you really are. The end result is a group of professional, punctually paying, respectful clients that are a pleasure to work with.
But today... today I had one of the exquisitely Italian business encounters that still seem incredible to me. Someone who still owes me money for two past due invoices from April and May wrote to tell me that in Italy everyone was closed for holidays in August. As if that has anything to do with invoices from April andMay. She also added the usual that's just the way it is here in the Bel Paese...
That, of course, is total crap. But I've been gone for a while. I boiled over and wrote a scathing reply, which I won't repeat here, firstly because I wrote in Italian, and secondly because it was quite nasty. I have a series of threatening letters I send to these people going from mild to firm to threats of legal action (the legal part always works), but today I just plain lost my patience.
I think the real problem here is that I've been issuing my husband's American invoices with this beautiful, poetic little phrase at the bottom-
Payment due in 15 days. Overdue accounts subject to a service charge of 1% per month.
Quite ironic, really, since his clients here in America give me a check at the same moment that I hand them the invoice...