I was all ready to be in Singapore. Seriously. I had a gig lined up in Asia, Paul and I had bought the linen pants, we were ready to go. And then everything changed. Suddenly we weren’t going and I was thinking what to do with myself when the phone rang and wham bam, I’m back in the country that I thought I’d never set foot in again my entire life.
I worked in the Netherlands, in Amsterdam for 5 months around 5 years ago. And I hated it. Everything about it. I turned into that whingeing ex-pat who happily takes the nation’s money and bitches about its existence at the same time.
But Amsterdam did push me.
There was a litany of weirdness that just followed me around. First lot of weirdness was my first landlord who used to come into the apartment when I wasn’t around. I had this creepy feeling when I got home that someone had been in there during the day. What started as a suspicion turned into too obvious evidence.
I left the TV on one day just to see and to my horror, when I got home, it was off. I went upstairs to knock on his door (he lived in the apartment above) and asked him about the TV. He had no problem at all telling me that he’d been in there to turn it off. I told him that this was breaking the lease, he told me that I was wasting his electricity.
The next time I knew there was something weird going on was when I was doing my laundry. I started to notice that underwear of mine were going missing. Every time I did a load I was one more pair of Calvins down. This was deeply disturbing. Then one day I came home to discover the trap I set had been sprung. The clothes that I had left in my cupboard stacked a certain way were now mixed up. The filthy bugger had been going through my things.
And maybe he was wearing them too…?
Needless to say, I moved. Then a friend of mine had another uniquely Dutch problem. He went to the gym before work but it wasn’t easy since the gym opened at 8:30 and he was officially supposed to be at work then, but it was ok if he was in by 9:30. So he thought that he’d make a suggestion to the woman at the front counter, that maybe they should open earlier so that people could get a work out in before the office.
Woman: That’s interesting. So, what time are you supposed to be at work?
Friend: Technically by 8:30.
Woman: I see. So why should I start work before you do?
That stumped him.
There is a uniquely Dutch thing where they won’t do something for you to prove that you are no better than they are. This is weird when they work in a service oriented job. Like the clash of two doctrines head on it always results in some messy tie that leaves you bleeding and without the thing that you wanted.
There’s more stories that I have just like those two, but I’m chanting for a different experience this time around. So far, the last of summer has peeked through on a couple of days, I’ve drunk beer on the canals and wandered the streets and haven’t hit the Dutch thing head on yet.
Fingers crossed. Amsterdam, I will like you if you don’t steal any more of my underwear.