Monday, April 14, 2008

How much for water?

I'm just back from a short break in Flevoland, an area of Holland that is 1.5hrs journey away from Amsterdam. It is a polder, a parcel of land reclaimed from the sea, waters kept at bay with the building of dykes. It's amazing to sit in a forest and ponder, "this place was an ocean 40 years ago". More bizarrely, we stayed at a Center Parks resort famous for its indoor swimming arena's, where once waves rippled a full on effects theme park of water slides and wake boarding rooms now presides.

We returned homeward on friday via the local harbor, the ferry to the adjacent town across (yet more water) did not run on that day so I approached the harbor master in the office and asked if there was anybody that would take me across to Spakenburg for €10 or €20. He raised his hands to his head rubbing his hair in a nervous fashion, I said in my bad Dutch, "yes I know it's a bit stupid off me to forget the ferry doesn't go on Friday's, but my idea is a bit creative". Pausing a while, a rest period given while he could come to terms with this major crisis being trust upon him. He asked when did I want to go and said he would drop me over on the speedboat in an hour or so.

The Dutch do not like unexpected things, there were signs clearly stating that the ferry did not go on fridays, who was this 'outsidelander' getting all creative, we have timetables and systems, do they not suffice for all? By the passing of the hour he'd adjusted to the impending drama well and was positively enjoying the spontaneity of the whole situation while not displaying it overtly. "It was good to get away from the harbor office" and a glow spurted on his reddish cheeks as we walked toward the boat. He sped across, the glow shifting to a fresh sigh of relief as the windforce swept through the boat...all said and done the love of water was why he choose this job.

As we disembarked onto the harbor wall, I took two €10 notes from my pocket, I handed him both, one after the other, he looked gob-smacked as if to say, "Really!". In some countries a display of cash on such an occasion would be offensive, an Irishman might babel, "not at'tal at all, would ye go way outta that". In other lands a sparring match might commence, "take it, no I won't, ah go on, no I couldn't, I insist, sure it was only a few minutes, right you are so". Not possible in Holland, I love watching their faces as I tip them too much, you see they 'LOVE' money, they adore it, like a boy presented his first teddybear or a bar of chocolate, so delighted with the gift he clenches it until it has melted between his chubby fingers. It has an innocence to it. They don't even care or ponder on which purchases they might make. They just put it in their pocket, as if it was one of those charcoal winter warmers. The whole experience was worth twice the price...but the harbor master probably still thinks I was just a pleasant but foolish American who tips too big.


Anonymous said...


DUB in the DAM said...

Indeed...thanks for popping by. Dub

expipesmoker said...

mooi geschreven in leerzaam bougondisch engels
heb je ook het filpje van stephen fry over pijproken gezien?

DUB in the DAM said...

Thanks for popping by ExPS, I guess burgandy english means, rich, fruity and full-bodied. Is that you Hans, you're the only ex-pipe smoker I know in Holland?