Wednesdays are the big Papal Audience days at the Vatican and despite yesterday’s tribulations, we couldn’t afford to let a big day like this go by without getting some books into people’s hands. We couldn’t get to our big stash of boxes because they are being kept in an office building that we can’t access until after 9:15…and we wanted to get an early start, while everyone is in line to get into the Piazza. So we had to work with the small stash we have at our apartment.
We had been lent a small grocery cart by one of our volunteers who lives here in Rome and it was just perfect for putting the contents of two boxes inside while still being able to bring it on the bus. We thought it best to stay mobile at all times in order to avoid the police. We emptied the entire cart in about 20 minutes and went back for more…but when we returned, the same policemen found us.
This time I was prepared. I had obediently done as I was told yesterday. I did spend half the day in those offices. And got nowhere. But one of the many things they told me yesterday was that this book didn’t qualify as a flyer, so they weren’t sure if they could give me a flyer permit. Now, the way things work here in Italy, that means you are stuck in an endless loop that is basically a dead end. You don’t need a permit, but that doesn’t mean that they will tell you that you can do what you want.
Of course, while we were in the throes of yesterday’s pain, we reached out to many of our supporters and were told that indeed, there was no need to get a permit for what we were doing. Only if we were selling would we need a permit. And we’re not selling.
I knew we weren’t going to be able to hide from the police forever, so I actually was glad that the same cops found us. I explained to them that we obediently did as we were told, but that we were told that we didn’t need a “volantaggio” permit because these weren’t “volanti” (flyers). Which is 99% true. Once again they had to huddle. We waited while one superior called another superior until we had the capo with us. They argued, they discussed. But in the end, they couldn’t find a reason to stop us. We swore up and down that we weren’t selling them. And finally…they said…OK, I guess you can do it.
**Heaving sigh of relief**
The rest of the day was spent in administrative tasks. That’s code for things like networking, resting, eating and generally trying not to lose one’s mind. We even met some very interesting priests from New York sitting at the table next to us at tonight’s restaurant. I think we closed the place discussing Newman and Latin and Rome in the 1960s over Amaro and Sambuca. This is how one recharges batteries in Rome. We are ready for more soldiering tomorrow.