Sunday, March 6, 2011

Unhelpful people.

Not to generalise, but I've encountered a few Dutch working in the service sector who, when you ask them for help, speak to you like they don't actually want to help you. How does this work?

Case no. 1: HTM service counter in Rotterdam.
Context: My cousin and I are asking for the route to Kinderdijk, a well-known tourist attraction with lots of windmills, often visited in summertime.

Me: Hello, good morning, how do we get to Kinderdijk?
HTM man: -big sigh- It's very difficult to get there, you know.
Me: Er, yes, ok, but how do we get there?
HTM man: You have to take the metro to here, and then a bus from here - for one hour!- to get there.

I asked for the route, not an assessment of its difficulty.

Case no. 2: Office
Context: I've been chasing the secretary to an official in the municipality of The Hague for some weeks now to get an answer from her boss.

Me: Hello, I'm calling about Mrs de Jong, is she back from holiday yet?
Secretary: Sorry, what is this about?
Me: It's regarding our conference, has Mrs de Jong given you an answer yet?
Secretary: Sorry, I can't find your event on the agenda, and in any case I'm sure one of my colleagues or I have given you a reply by email. Mrs de Jong has cleaned out her inbox so I can't say for sure.
Me: No, I spoke to you last week and the last thing I heard was that Mrs de Jong is away on holiday.
Secretary: Sorry, but I can't remember, in any case we receive too many invitations a day!

Her negative reply is the only answer I'll take, thank you, not your lack of attention to your work.

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