Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Coffee for the Scrubman?

From my kitchen I can hear his argumentative voice echoing through the stairwell. Phoning a friend? Venting to a coworker? Times are hard. People don't pay what's fair. He has to working extra to make ends meet. He scrubs and complains, tossing in a few curse words.

And his loud frustration might wake a napping Pippin. Should I interrupt his rant to ask him to quiet down a bit? Probably not.

I've been missing the other, older workmen. I'd started to think of them as 'ours' during the weeks that they were in and out, chatting with the awestruck Pippin as they painted and operated the machines outside. It felt like having uncles around when they offered to help me haul the buggy downstairs or complimented my coffee. Their singing (yodeling?) made me smile. But this new guy, with the loud angry voice. Who's to say he wouldn't pause talking on the phone long enough to cuss me out or give me the finger? I'll just ignore him and hope Pippin sleeps through the noise.

And then I have a thought.

Maybe I should offer the Scrubman coffee?

Saturday, March 5, 2016

You Know You're Ingeburgerd When... (Part 1)

Ingeburgerd can be translated as 'adjusted' or 'integrated'. Not surprisingly, the Dutch government has made inburgering mandatory for most people applying for residency or citizenship. If you intend to stay in the Netherlands long-term, the requirements include language and social tests, such as the NT2.

While legal paperwork and diplomas are important, not everything can be measured by piece of paper. You don't get a certificate for just feeling like you're well-adjusted in Dutch society. But approving nods from colleagues and friends, or sometimes even just the lack of patient corrections can show you're on the right path to blending in. Sometimes it really is the little things that matter....

You know you're ingeburgerd when....

You nonchalantly swipe your card past the reader in the tram, train, or metro station without looking.

You finish someone's sentence with an appropriate slogan. I.e. "That's the power-" "of the PostBank!" Or "Not because it's necessary-" "but because it's possible!"

You remember (almost always) to bring your own bags to the grocery store.

You know to bike on the right side of the road and bike lanes and are horrified when Dutch friends choose to 'ghost' ride on the left side (spookrijden) because "it's just a short distance".

You compliment a child on their backpack and correctly name the popular movie/tv/pop star design on it.

You give a tolerant smile if you actually see clogs for sale.

You can name the appropriate colors of the biggest football/soccer teams in your city, and maybe even the coaches and best players as well.

You get annoyed if you see newspapers, glass jars, or plastic bottles in the garbage bins instead of in the proper recycling containers.

You know to say, "Congratulations! When is the baby due?" if someone posts a photo of beschuit met muisjes (rusk with 'mice' sprinkles) on Facebook or Whatsapp.

You find yourself looking for the Dutch section of a multilingual instructions booklet before remembering to check for your home language.

You are aware that there are many, many types of licorice candy (drop), cheese, and coffee, and that all kinds are NOT created equal.

You can hum along with the advertisements on the radio from Kruidvat and can whistle to the Hema tune.

You know your Dutch clothes/shoe size when shopping.

You notice difference between regional accents, and nod knowingly when someone criticizes "Those Rotterdammers/Amsterdammers/people from Wassenaar...."

You've had at least one bike stolen.

You know where to find comfort foods from your own country, but also know what the best Dutch substitutes are.