As a child growing up in middle-of-nowhere, America, I was only vaguely aware of Europe until a fifth-grade encounter with Edgar Allan Poe’s short story “The Cask of Amontillado” made me cognizant of Italy as a place where beverages are routinely used for nefarious purposes and never to be trusted. Having still never been to Italy, I must admit to frequently falling into the ugly American stereotype of “person who combs headlines looking for confirmation bias that Italy is, in fact, overflowing with beverages full of secrets.” And still more unfortunately, at long last, I have finally found confirmation of that bias.
An Italian insurance agent in Bra, Piedmont, has been sentenced to four years in jail after reportedly spiking her co-worker’s coffee with benzos over an extended period of time in order to hinder her co-worker’s job performance. Alice Bordon says her co-worker Mariangela Cerrato brought daily coffees to all the employees at their insurance firm, which Bordon normally sipped. But one day, amid rumors of impending layoffs, she drank her entire beverage relatively quickly and proceeded to faint in front of a client. Though doctors suspected a stroke, she was released when medical professionals could find nothing wrong with her. The dizziness and fatigue continued, however, so much so that Bordon crashed her car into a tree after one spell.
She began to suspect her co-worker of being a villain with nonsensical Poe motives after Cerrato took vacation time and Bordon’s symptoms subsided: “She had taken a few days off and during that time I was fine,” Bordon told Italian newspaper La Stampa. “I thought there might be a link between the coffee and the [health] crises. A neurologist advised me not to drink it for a month, and that’s what I did.”
Her suspicions further grew when Cerrato began to talk exactly like an Edgar Allan Poe character: “Come on, I will bring you a coffee, what harm can it do you?” Bordon says Cerrato entreated.
And instead of allowing Cerrato a Fortunado-esque victory, in which Bordon got fired or trapped inside a basement wall, retribution overtook its redressor after Bordon saved a bit of her coffee, had it tested for drugs, and obviously found some. She was then instrumental in a sting operation during which Cerrato was caught in the act of attempting to poison her colleague. In an ending perhaps more suited to de Maupassant than Poe, the insurance company has clarified that they were not considering layoffs, and, in fact, were in the process of expanding the company’s workforce.