One of the hallmarks of Life in Italy is the wild conspiracy theories one can relish for an unlimited source of entertainment. Believe me, it's better than TV. Chat with total strangers over an espresso at the coffee bar, engage a taxi cab driver, meet clients over lunch, and you will find a terrific theory to explain every single happening in your world. Some of my favorite conspiracies were being bandied about last week to explain our 'wildcat snow emergency' response in Rome and environs.
Intermingled with "snow day" theories was one theory that totally caught me by surprise. Even moreso, it had nothing to do with the media rush to make news while terrorizing people who did not have the good sense to simply look out their windows. As more reports came trickling in on the Concordia accident, this particular theory had to do with Captain Schettino and his big crippled boat. It turns out that the truth behind the events (sheer bravado, a hot babe on board, jumping ship) did not hold enough muster on their own to explain this totally preventable tragedy. While Costa Co. pointed fingers at the Captain and vice versa, in the end, they all settled on who would be held truly responsible. No shock there.
Instead, I was told, with no hint of irony by the relator that "Captain Schettino was most likely paid off by the competition to sink that boat."
Like a soccer player caught betting against his own team, I can see the origins of this line of thinking. But I can't think of a more ridiculous explanation than just chalking this up to sheer stupidity and gross incompetence on a grand scale. Nonetheless, conspiracy theories tend to foment when the situation is so intensely risible that it begs a better explanation than what meets the eye.
So it was with the Snowstorm of 2012. Men on the street starting offering up wild explanations as to why the Rome Mayor (and others around), would choose to ignore weather reports, not wait for the snow to actually start falling before making a decree which could cost the city untold millions, and preempt Mother Nature by closing schools and city offices days before we were (not) hit with much snow -- and on a Saturday, no less. So, here's a brief offering of explanations heard about town:
- Mayors closed schools & city offices in order to put people in a panic and get them to stock up on fuel and groceries, giving a boost to the economy.
- Rome's Mayor closed schools & city offices in order to grind the economy to a halt so they could blame our technocrat govt.
- Offices & schools were closed to keep everyone home so they wouldn't see how ineffectual the cleanup might be (this, I'd say, may have some merit)
- Everything was shut down so only those who needed to travel could, given the conditions (and for those stuck on the Ring Roads and highways for hours, the closures could have helped).
- The Mayor wanted to look like he was doing something, so as not to be caught out with ineffectual planning (a case of an 'ounce of prevention') - likely, the most probable explanation
- Rome's Mayor is in the pocket of the petroleum companies...with the gas prices so high, they weren't selling anything and now look at how many chains and snow tires he must have sold.
- If he declares an emergency, the City won't have to finance the cleanup (in fact, in towns around Viterbo, the military was called in for snow removal in huge dump trucks like they do with the trash removal in Naples).
As I stated on my facebook page, Captain Schettino tried to convince 1000 passengers that islands don't have rocks around them and Mayor Alemanno tried to convince millions we were totally snowed under.
Let me know if there are any other conspiracies out there, or what your favorite might be!