Goat Butter and Other Dutch Adaptations


You haven’t seen me in a while, and that’s because we were in the Netherlands. No, I didn’t “just get back,” I have been processing. There was quite a bit to process…

For one thing, I gave goat butter a pass, and now I see that was a mistake. I try not to eat dairy and eggs. (The dairy industry is the meat industry is the leather industry – it’s not for this blog. I like you people.)

Now, I see goat butter is the most amazing thing on the planet. Ah well, another opportunity lost. In 20 years, I have never had drugs in the NL, nor have I gambled (even though I could win big. Like 200 Euros big.)

Next time I go back, I won’t be able to get goat butter. That’s how the Dutch roll. They’re always adapting.

We have a friend who started texting 17 years ago, but isn’t on social media. Why? Because the Dutch still see each other. Like, in person. They actually have a cultural phenomenon where they sit in a chair OUTSIDE in the middle of town, and when their friends walk by, THEY TALK. It’s all social, no media. They liked the texting so they kept it, but the rest of it? Waste of time…

They also hang their garbage bags on the lamp posts now. Oh, this is going to catch fire. Instead of putting all of the trash in a bin and wheeling it to the street, where some American tourist will hit it with their giant huurauto and spill it all over the place, they put hooks around the lamp posts and just hang the bags for the trash collector to pick up.

“Look at our trash! We make it look modern and decorative! We’re the Dutch! We innovate, muthaf#$kers!”

Here’s another adaptation I’m not so crazy about. Service. Used to be, if you wanted downright abuse, you went to France. If you wanted lukewarm but incredibly capable service, you went to the Netherlands.

Say you wanted a sandwich before your movie started. It’s just a sandwich, how long can it take? Long. Oh, it would be a great sandwich with the freshest side salad and the most flavorful ragout on heavenly bread. But your movie was not your server’s problem.

They got paid a living wage, and it’s incredibly difficult to fire an employee, so you’d have to wait. When you reminded them you had a movie to catch, they’d have probably even said something like, “Okay, it’s no problem,” meaning it wasn’t their problem you didn’t eat before you left the hotel. (The French server would just huff or maybe give you the finger.)

“This is me expressing myself.”

Nowadays, the Dutch are alarmingly concerned about service, and I’m not sure I like it.

I’m afraid what it might mean. We noticed a lot of “give us a 5-star rating” or “like us on Facebook.” Even the hospital – the hospital! – had posters about service. And that’s saying something for Dutch healthcare. Because American businesses (including hospitals) know that you can offer consumers total idiocy as long as it’s “served up with a smile.”

“Yes, they amputated the wrong arm, but they were so nice!”

If this is the way you’re adapting, Netherlands, you’re doing it wrong. What happened to the superiority that allowed you a booming slave business? What about that time you tied your entire economy to tulips and spices – and ruled the world? I’m just saying, don’t look at us – we’re still new.

In the last 2 days, our Supreme Court just protected the Affordable Care Act and upheld same-sex marriage. As a Dutch friend said, “Welcome to the 21st Century.”

Service is not your purview, it’s adapting in the direction of quality. Stick to the world-class free education, the compassionate care for your people and the environment, and food so fresh and preservative-free, it’s moldy by the time you finish your tiny soda.

I don’t want Jens kneeling next to me on the terrace and asking if I want sparkling or still water. I want the Netherlands back. Don’t even offer me water at all! Give me that tarry, tongue-coating coffee for which you exploited Suriname.



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