I paid the car "bollo" or tax today. At least that was the plan. Turns out that someone else had already paid it yesterday -- obviously a mistake. "So, what do I do?" I asked the woman behind the ACI desk. She didn't seem to know. We all assume that the person who inadvertently paid my car tax instead of his, will notice, eventually, maybe. Unless he happens to look at the receipt before filing it away at home, most likely this moment of awareness will come same time next year when he pays next year's tax, only to find this year's one unpaid and with a fine! Or he will receive a fine in the mail -- probably in five years time (says the woman at the bar to whom I told my story).
But what if he doesn't notice? What if it is a company car and in the midst of piles of accounts no one notices and just pays again.
My fellow cappuccino clients at the bar next door conferred and the general consensus was to wait and see....maybe I have won a kind of bureaucratic lottery -- "free car tax for one year, get your tickets here". No one said that I should do the right thing and pay so that my car would be covered twice over until the truth comes out. At worst, I will have to pay a modest fine for paying late.
Ah yes, the Italians do thrive in ambiguous situations, it gets their blood circulating, they come alive, full of ideas on how to beat the system. They loved the idea that I had done it, although by chance. I had made their day.
But it boils down to a question of "risk tolerance" and as I have seen on other occasions, I often fail this exam, pay up, park properly or whatever, just to reduce the anxiety of ambiguity.