Surrounded by old money in a Venetian town house, I was summoned upstairs by my elderly masters. An epic canvas of St. Marks Square dominated proceedings, like I needed a reminder of where I am living.
Earlier in the same street, a damp alleyway full of pot plants behind the Grand Canal, my boss explained I had to come with him: ‘I need to stay friends with them, Daniel, do you understand?’ I know this is an unfashionable thing to admit in any walk of life. But I like my boss. He’s warm, entertaining and affable. A networking hustler with an eye for a new deal.
After years of working in sterile British offices, my brief sojourn in Italy has been anything but dull. Like my meeting in Oddo’s court, where my apartment’s bills and surcharges were finally revealed. A naked triumph of greed and entitlement, where as a pawn without a voice, I watched Oddo and his wife deliver their demands to my boss.
Sitting opposite them at their grand table, I felt the full weight of powerlessness. They were inadvertently stripping away my salary by making me responsible for their communal property debts.
Once I realised what they were doing and deducted from the paperwork that I was being charged for more than just a electricity bill. I sat silently like my boss’s errant son on remand for a crime I did not commit.
I felt enraged by their shameless greed, but I couldn’t let my boss down. Not in front of him because unlike in past I know the power of words. When to speak and in this instance when to say nothing. I am pragmatic, savvy and calculating in these situations. You play the game.
It’s important to always pick the right words, and refuse to shake hands when I finally depart from my apartment’s front door.