Monday, November 3, 2014

But Wait, There's More

      So many lessons from Italy.   Today's deals with priorities.  Nowhere is the difference in priorities between the USA and Italy more evident than at the airport.   In Italy, service in restaurants is slow.  Permitting for building is slow.  Lines at airports  That's right; they're fast and efficient.  In the USA, service in restaurants is fast. Permitting for building is fast.  Lines at airports are interminable.  The difference is one of attitude.  In Italy, meals are meant to be savored leisurely, and really, what is the rush to finish a building?  Waiting to board public transportation is simply a waste of time.  People could be having a latte or cappuccino instead of waiting in line.  They could have a glass of wine and laugh with friends.  They need to get us through something that is a nuisance, necessary as it is, so we can enjoy the things that make life worth living.
       The Italians, are remarkably efficient with their airport security.  Follow me on this.  Daughter and I show up at the airport.  We check in at the desk and show our passports.  We walk to the security line, which was REALLY long, and show our passports.  We're nervous.  There are only two lines open at security.  There are only three, that's right, three people working at each line, one checking passports and tickets, one ushering folks through the scanner, and one reading the xray of bags.  We sigh and resign ourselves to a super long wait.   We thought it was a good thing we had to be at the airport 3 hours ahead of time.  10 minutes later, we were completely through security.  Did I mention the line was really long?  It wasn't that they asked us to do any less than the TSA here in the USA.  In fact, we had to take more things out of our bags, although we could keep our shoes on our feet.  It wasn't that their scanners were any different than ours.  The Italians were simply really efficient.  Oh, and coming into the country,  passport control moved like lightening, whether you were a European resident or not.    
       Then, Daughter and I reached the USA.  What a cluster.....  Getting through passport control wasn't too bad.  Then, we had to get our bags and go through another check before our bags went on to their final destination.  That line was REALLY long.  There were three people at the desk, so we weren't too worried.  Until we saw only one of them was actually working.  That's right, 3 full flights arrived, at least 100 people are waiting in line, and of three people, only one of them was working.  That line took half an hour to get through, and all they had to do was check our passports (again) and ask us if we had anything to declare to customs.  Then, even though we had gone through security in Europe, they made us go through security again.  There was only one line open at security to check tickets and identification.  Then there were two lines open at the security check.  I counted 5 people working on each line.  I don't know what they were all doing, and neither did they.  The line wasn't that long, maybe 20 people, a small fraction of the people in Italy.  It took almost another half an hour to get through.  No one had any clue what they were doing.  Daughter almost missed her connecting flight.  We were both frustrated.  Obviously, American priorities at airports are not on getting passengers through the line. That's not part of their value system.  They just don't care.
       Just as Italians and Americans have different priorities, so do clients here in the Trenches.  For some clients, keeping the children in their same environment is critical.  Or maybe it's safeguarding their retirement.  Perhaps, it's spending more time with the children, or spending less on child or spousal support.  For some, the priority is getting through the process as fast as possible  Maybe the priority is to finish as cheaply as they can.  Some want to take it slowly and thoughtfully.  At times, it seems like the difference between Italian airport security and American.  Part of our jobs here in the Trenches is to help our clients decide what is most important, both in life and in process.  Another part is to find a way to meld the priorities of both spouses in order to choose the process that works for everyone and to help them both meet at least their most important priorities.  Sometimes we can, and sometimes, one client demands everyone march to the beat of their drummer.  Everyone is not the same, nor are their priorities; unfortunately, when clients don't realize that, the process kind of feels like an Italian suffering through American airport security, or an American trying to obtain an Italian building permit - painful and frustrating.  Again, there are reasons people are divorcing, and differing priorities are usually a big part of that.  Simply realizing that one fact and accounting for it in what you do and say can make a huge difference.  Here in the Trenches.

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