Lesson 2: The Dutch Mentality
The second lesson in my intermediate Dutch class covered Dutch mentality. From news articles reprinted in my book, I learned that the Dutch admit to being: stingy, penny-pinching, know-it-alls, conceited, not very nice, rude behind the wheel of a car, really blunt, and they can't stand in lines. I've only really experienced the last two, but the rest are very common complaints from expats.
On a day-to-day bases, my interaction Dutch people is limited to retail workers. As with any place, if it's a cheapy shop, the staff usually could care less about helping you. If it's an exclusive shop, they're snotty. Generally, in between people are friendly and helpful.
They are still obsessed with their rules and policies however. I recently ordered paper products that were supposed to arrive within a week. After two weeks and a trip the the US had gone by, I called to see where they were. The first thing out of the clerk's mouth was, "Did you receive a call that they are in?" "I don't know. I was out of the country for a week and we don't have an answering machine." "Well they would try to call you several times." "Can you just check?" "Fine." Brief silence. "No, they're not here yet." "Do you know when they'll come in?" "No. You must wait for the call." I also got an incredible lecture from my dental hygienist on the proper way to brush my teeth. She kept saying over and over, "you must do it this way."
I will say that the Dutch are at least introspective about their society. Whereas we Americans are largely oblivious to our attitudes, especially when they're not positive. For instance, Americans are widely considered to be insincere when we're polite, and people are never sure if we mean what we say. B- received a handout about American culture when he first arrived for his Master's degree a couple years back. The paper warned newcomers not to believe us when we say things like, "we should get together sometime" as we're probably only being polite. This begs the question, how polite are we being if we say things that we don't mean all the time?
Anyway, I leave you with the following sentences from my latest Dutch lesson:
1) She often pays attention to her money.
2) When it's 5:55pm at a store, they are not going to ask if they can help you.
3) The Netherlands isn't very spacious.
4) They often leave the country for vacation.
5) Dutch people are well organized.
6) Foreigners are impressed that the Dutch can speak many languages.
7) Foreigners don't always laugh at Dutch humor.
8) A sexy Dutch woman doesn't shave.
9) Americans sometimes mock Dutch tolerance.
10) Dutch people are fairly stingy.
11) It stinks of dog poop here.
12) Some Dutch people lie about their salary.
Labels: life in holland