1. Arrive at train station in good time to catch train from Messina to Palermo.
2. Notice that said train is leaving 40 minutes late. Decide that you can live with that.
3. Purchase ticket from ticket machine. Friend puchases ticket from human at ticket window, since the other ticket machine is not behaving.
4. Tickets in hand, notice that said train is now leaving two hours late. Decide you can't live with that.
5. Inquire at bus station across the parking lot if a bus is running to Palermo in the next couple of hours. Yes, there is. The ticket is a little more expensive, but it gets there faster. You want to do this.
6. Return to ticket line to get a refund for train tickets.
7. Approach window, and ask ticket seller (in Italian) if he speaks English. He says yes.
8. Ask for a refund. Ticket seller starts answering in Italian. Act very confused, mostly because you are very confused.
9. A few "non capiscos" later, go to information office, next to ticket windows.
10. Slowly approach female information officer who looks like she's been doing her job for 40 years, and has only successfully informed a handful of people.
11. Explain late train situation, and ask for a refund.
12. Information Lady takes each ticket, and lays them on desk in front of her. Slowly opens desk drawer to reveal a box of rubber stamps, but no ink. Very methodically, seeks out three separate stamps, and stamps each ticket. Carefully checks date on date stamp. Adds a scribble to one of them.
13. Return to ticket queue with stamped tickets. Neglect to take a photo of stamped ticket.
14. Approach ticket seller (same one) again. He's much happier this time now that tickets are officially stamped, even though no one can't read them all that well, since there wasn't any ink. Passport requested.
15. Two friends present two passports - one American, one British. The American one is accepted. The British one is declined.
16. Ticket seller enters much information into computer terminal in front of him. American friend is obliged to sign a slip of paper. Twice.
17. Cash drawer is opened, and finally refund is offered, for both tickets.
18. Ticket seller, all smiles, hands back passport. "New York?" Ah, he thinks I'm a New Yorker. Born there, don't live there. Tell him that in English, but don't think he gets it.
19. Go get cappuccinos to recover from ordeal, and have a laugh.