Sunday, November 22, 2009

I love being a whiner

I don't know what I find more amusing: that people always tell me that you can never get discounts in Holland; or the fact that I always do. I am classically American in this respect.

I will scrap over a nickel if I think I'm getting screwed on purpose. I call the cable company, the heating company, the credit card company - everybody. Especially when there is a late fee. I get my man about 50-75% of the time.

I told D - sometimes if you contest these things, you'll get your money back or get a late fee reversed. It's always worth asking. He SWEARS up and down that that doesn't work in Holland and it embarrasses the hell out of him when I do it. "That's not how we do things here. Companies don't give you breaks because they don't care." There is also so little competition (there is one heating company in my town with a full monopoly) that you can never threaten to go elsewhere with your business.
Sure, he complains about it, but then secretly brags to his friends about things like this and how they end like this when I'm in charge...)

My tact is always just to wear them down with my whining so they give me a discount to get me to shut up. I have TOTALLY lost any pride I had about these things when I had kids and started struggling. Especially a couple years ago when we were really broke and D was unemployed. I have stopped giving a flying fuck about what people think. It's a little alarming, but sort of liberating too. (My 20-year-old self would be mortified by my self of today.)

I remember in my father's clothing store, people used to ask me for discounts all the time. I would be polite, but sneer inwardly thinking "what a cheapskate." My dad was the world's greatest negotiator, and when I told him it made me feel stupid to argue about a few bucks, he'd always say "whose pocket is it better in - yours or theirs?"

Dutch people are notoriously frugal - why the F don't they ask for discounts? I got 79 euros off the new mattress that I bought this week. OK, compared to the total bill, it was a drop in the bucket, but if I found 79 euros on the street, I'd fucking pick it up. Wouldn't you?

Of course, I will also spend 200 euros on something worth 100 euros if I really, really want it. That's my cross to bear. Good thing I got that discount, huh?!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

"Holland Sucks"?

The number one search term people enter to get to my blog is "Holland Sucks." Come on. Do I really complain that much?

The SECOND most popular search term to get to my site is "Amsterdam Sucks."

There sure is a lot of sucking going on. I had no idea that I whined enough to put me that high in the search engine for Dutch suckery (or is it "suckerij"?). Wow.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Twittering with excitement

I just started a twitter as amsterdamyank (some assclown already took amsterdamyankee).

I don't know how much I'll use it, considering I pretty much just opened the account because I'm cold and I wanted an excuse to keep the warm laptop on my legs.

You know how I always complain about the small packaging in this country? (The unwitting side effect is that I'm much thinner than I used to be.) Well, I just got a care package from my mother with all kinds of American junkfood. YUUUUUUUUMM. Nice big packages of Oreos, Reeses, Cheez-Its, etc...all my favorites.

As I unpacked it, groaning with joy and eat-lust, it occured to me why Americans are so fat. It's not the food, it's the packaging. There it is, folks. Case closed.

I've almost killed the whole pack of Oreos. Now THAT'S eating a whole box of cookies.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

White, what?

I've got a couple of things bugging me today. Mostly cartoons, but other Dutch weirdnesses too. I mean:

Why do schools here always brag about how few foreigners they have? They proudly say things like "Almost all of our children are Dutch. No foreigners. And the foreign children we do have are all well-assimilated. Not many dark people at all, and only a few Muslims." Is this like, the goal? Dutch people: Don't keep whining about how different you are from the Germans when you encourage this kind of parent-teacher conversation.

Which brings me to cartoons. Dora here is American and speaks English. In the US, she's Mexican-American and speaks Spanish. So it's wicked funny when she visits her grandparents who are like, wearing ponchos and have pet llamas and says stuff like "Dit is mijn opa - 'my grandfather.'" It's like, dude, that's your abuelo, ok?

I actually like that, though. It shows a little about how diverse it is in the US and that everyone is different - but they're still American. Unlike some countries we could mention, Holland.

(As an aside, I overheard D saying to my son one time "Have you ever noticed how Dora needs your help for EVERYTHING? I mean, can't she do anything alone?")

On Boomerang, they have all these great classic cartoons that I remember watching as a kid -or as my stepdaughter calls them "old-fashioned cartoons." Thanks, kid.

My son likes Popeye and I got to thinking, what's up with Olive Oil? Are there NO other women in town? How come they're so hung up on her if she's such a fickle bitch?

Attention Fireman Sam - There are about four people who live in your town. Does it concern you at all that there is a fire on almost EVERY episode? Someone is doing something wrong.

OK, my son is hanging on my because he wants to play a computer game. "Mama, het duurt zo LANG!" His catchphrase.