In a well-known scene from the first film in the Fantozzi series (centered on the eponymous Italian literary and film character, created in the early 1970s and played by the writer and actor Paolo Villaggio), the narrator solemnly recounted what happened when the lead woke up and began his frantic race against time to get to work: “To make sure he could stamp his timecard at 8:30 a.m. exactly, 16 years ago Fantozzi used to set his alarm to 6:15. Today, by dint of continuous experiments and refinements, he managed to set it to 7:51… that is, at the limit of what is humanly possible!” In a memorable sequence, after going out to the street through his window, Fantozzi rushed into an oppressive urban landscape, dodging kicks and punches until he managed to jump onto a bus overflowing with people. Cities are inhabited by thousands of Fantozzis, all driven by the urgency to stamp their timecard at the same moment.
Aside from poetic license, the scene reminds us, between traffic and overcrowding, of the unpleasant conditions faced by commuters and other workers every morning. But there is another way to improve this situation. We could put into practice what we have learned in the last few months of the pandemic—the strategy of flattening the curve.