After years of working in sterile British offices, my brief sojourn in Italy has been anything but dull. Like my meeting today in Oddo’s court, where my apartment’s bills and surcharges were finally revealed. It was a naked triumph of greed and entitlement, where as a pawn without a voice, I watched Oddo and his wife deliver their payment demands to my boss.
Surrounded by old money in a Venetian town house, I was summoned upstairs by my elderly masters. Sitting opposite them at their family table, I felt the full weight of powerlessness. They were inadvertently stripping away my salary by making me responsible for their communal property debts.
Earlier in the same street, a damp alleyway full of pot plants behind the Grand Canal, my boss explained I had to go to Oddo’s: ‘I need to stay friends with them, Daniel, do you understand?’ I know this is an unfashionable thing to admit, but I like my boss. He’s funny, entertaining and affable hustler with an eye for a new deal.
Once I realised what they were doing and that I was being charged for more than just an electricity bill. It felt like I was on remand for a crime I did not commit. I felt enraged by Oddo’s shameless greed but I couldn’t let my boss down in front of him.
I am pragmatic, savvy and calculating in these situations. I know how important it is to always pick the right words.