What I Learned About The Economy From Ironing My Shirt In Italy

On my travels I found myself in a fine hotel in Central Milan. I came in about Midnight the previous night from London (courtesy the atrocious service of Easy-Jet*).

At 6.15AM I was up for my morning meeting – via a fast-train to Bologna. My shirt was clean courtesy the expensive London laundry. I just wanted an ironing board to press out the wrinkles.

There was not one in the room – so I rang reception. I asked them to bring one up. They said “impossible” which I found peculiar. An ironing board is a pretty standard service in a 4 star business hotel.

Then they explained that they could not get one before 7.30 (which was just before my train left). I said this was a bad fail for a business hotel.

Then they said something that was so stereotypical Italian it left me breathless. They told me it would be against the law to bring an ironing board to my room before 7.30 am.

I told this to my Bologna business contact and he scoffed. Of course somewhere in the 10 million lines of Italian code there is – of course – something that talks about ironing boards. Dysfunctional government (at least by the standards of OECD countries) is an iconic feature of Italy – but this was not government as a problem – it was government as an excuse.

At least Easy-Jet don’t blame the government for their bad – even rude – service.


*If anyone knows why European discount carriers are so horrible but Southwest (surely a similar model) is so pleasant (at least in a relative sense) let me know. In the USA I will fly Southwest in preference to any other airline. In Europe I am learning to avoid the discount airlines.

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