Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The Dutch Manner

It is official. The Dutch are rude. According to the results of a survey of Dutch expats, living across the world, and expatriates living in The Netherlands many find the Dutch to be less polite than other nationalities. Waiters, teenagers and shop assistants are the worst offenders according to the study. Positively seen by respondents are doctors, receptionists, immigrants and police officers.
Expatriates living in The Netherlands tend to be even more negative about the manners of the Dutch than “Nederlanders” living abroad are.

I read the results with interest but certainly not surprise. Furthermore, I actually took part in the review taken amongst expatriates living in the Netherlands, undertaken for Expatica.com by RuigrokNetPanel. My responses did nothing to help the Dutch with their negative results. Here are some reasons why.

In the normally long and slow supermarket queue, despite the pledge to open more tills if there are more than three people in line, I bear witness to a mad dash from the back of the queue if an extra till opens. The Dutch do not politely wait their turn and allow those before them to transfer to the adjacent line. They push, shove and elbow to get there first. Impolite or just the way of the Dutch?

My most recent encounter with the queue phenomena was just over a week ago, but the story had a surprise finale. A couple of women in front of me were paying for around one hundred toiletry items with separate bills. Each purchase consisted of two or three items and the going was slow to say the least. The queue behind me grew and became a mass of huffing puffing dissatisfied customers. Some even abandoned their potential purchases and exited the shop.

An employee appeared and began to open the adjacent till. Amidst the forward thrust from the tail end of the queue, I heard a voice, authoritative and forceful whilst simultaneously remaining gracious. The woman behind me announced to the encroaching handful that it would be fair if I were served next, as I had been waiting the longest. Sheepishly, smiling thankfully I moved across with my basket. There are always those that break the mould.

Rubbish on the streets of my hometown is quite normal, usually collected where the teenagers hang out. Apparently, the ten-meter walk to the nearest public rubbish bin is beyond the scope of the local youth. Lazy and unmannered or just Dutch youth?

I stand quite often dripping in the pouring rain, my toddler in his pram with his rain cover on, waiting at the side of a zebra crossing. It is usual to hang about whilst at least half a dozen warm and dry drivers tear by without thinking of braking to allow pedestrians across, despite the legal requirement to do so. Ill-mannered or just the Dutch way?

I am not even going to get started on those people sitting behind tills, sales people in the shops or customer service reps on the telephone…

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