Open Windows Unlimited
Updated: Jan 23, 2022
The Original Wireless Network
Italians are a group of very passionate, vocal people, and by vocal, I mean loud. Myself included.
If something is good, we're loud with excitement.
If something is "menza menz" (*slang), we're loud about how mediocre it is.
If something is absolutely schifoso, we're loud about how disgusting it is and usually want to know how it got to be that way.
When you think about a typical conversation, you can touch upon a variety of different emotions depending on how the topic shifts between partners. That usually makes for a loud conversation when we're involved. Unless, of course, you're part of a group of matriarchs at a family gathering and harshly judging scantily clad young ladies. Then the voices are quiet, but the facial expressions are screaming with disapproval.
Growing up Italian, I learned that there are usually a few different ways to go about getting a task done. A task could be anything, like getting rid of a rodent in the vegetable garden, fixing a torn window screen, or reminding someone that they owe you money. One way involved paying a discounted price (cash only) by using a guy you knew or price haggling someplace else. Another, more preferred way, was taking care of it yourself, for free.
My last point is that, in general, we Italians can be very direct. There are those who may be more on the passive aggressive side, but passive aggression is a waste of time. Life is short. No one has time for bullshit. Get to the point.
Nowadays, when we need to get anything done, we immediately whip out our cell phones and place a call or text. This is good for the sake of being direct and sending a message out quickly. There are just a few problems with this: a) it's not free; b) you have to leave a message and there are people who take forever to respond; c) text responses can be misinterpreted which could lead to confusion and stress.
Back in the day, before cell phones existed, Italians used the original wireless network called "Open Windows Unlimited (OWU)". It allowed us to put our loudness and directness to good use and accomplish a variety of tasks for free. It was especially useful in areas like Brooklyn and Queens where many of us lived in close proximity to each other. Many continued using this network after moving out to the suburbs, my family included.
All you had to do to use this network was to project your voice at an open window and get in a good lean. I've compiled a list of only some of what could be accomplished by using OWU:
Checking in on your kid who's outside playing with friends and was told not to leave the block.
Finding your family member who went outside to garden and appears to have been swallowed by tomato plants.
Yelling at your kid for being too loud outside with their friends.
Investigating the source of a loud sound or presence of a scostumato person.
Catching up with a neighbor about family members, illnesses, affairs, etc.
Discussing which salumeria had the best deals on mortadella e salami.
Loudly sharing the fact that it's freezing and that they'll catch a cold when you catch your kid outside without a jacket.
Informing your entire family that it's time to come inside for supper
For those who chose to be more passive aggressive, yet still wanted to put their loudness to good use, they could simply stand by an open window and yell about:
The pezzo di merda (PDM) neighbor who doesn't take care of their yard and is causing an eye sore for the neighborhood.
The PDM neighbor who doesn't clean his driveway and definitely causing some type of plague.
The PDM neighbor who keeps putting his garbage in your pails.
The PDM neighbor who has his fence on your property.
I'll be completely honest with you, dear reader. I love this network and will always be an active subscriber. Never mind that my kid is embarrassed because everyone in a three block radius knows that he needs to get his ass in the house to clean his room.
And there's no misinterpreting the message.