Wow, the Dutch are tough. Children don’t return my smile and wave while their mother looks at me as if my hair’s on fire. When I relate a fun fact to the checkout lady at the grocery store, she and my mom scuff “That’s weird.”
Hey, it was just meant to make you smile, not to have an argument about it. It’s all in good spirit I assure you, but I begin to wonder what the benefit is.
Grumpy Old Ladies
I came upon another typical situation in the grocery store today; two old
ladies stood complaining (for a solid four minutes) about a jar of peanut butter they had found standing among the cookies–one whole isle over from whence it came. Evidently, it was unspeakable that someone would do such a thing.
These are the moments that make one feel compelled to conform in Dutch society.
Another such conforming drive results from constant stares and whispers. Why is everybody staring at me all the time? Sizing me up, forming opinions, talking among themselves. Oh, and complaining has evidently become a popular pastime in the Netherlands as I hear it all day long. The immigrants, the crime rate, the weather, the waning morality of teenagers, the waiting line, the peanut butter in the cookie section… all extraordinary nuisances.
At the store
Without exception you’ll be asked for small change at every purchase. This is because shop owners need to pay extra when acquiring loose coins from the banks. I’ve become so accustomed to this that I painstakingly search my wallet and all pant pockets when in America (often finding those long-lost receipts and sometimes old chewing gum), but the vendor will look at me impatiently, not seeming to understand.
Next step: bagging what you bought. You’re on your own in the Netherlands. It is assumed you have either brought your own bags, or that you will carry your items to your bicycle basket. If you want a bag you’ll need to ask and you may need to pay for it. It’s good for the environment and I like it. Plus you know where the ice cream went when you get home, so you can put that away first