Saturday, September 01, 2007


so for the past several weeks, our veggie vendor at the market, the one we always go to, has been very generous with us with his prices. we'll get several kilos of peppers, onions, tomatoes, potatoes, etc. every week, and every week he just says "that'll be 3 euros please." it doesn't matter how big the order, it's always "3 euros please."

well, this week i wanted to repay the favor, quite literally. i wanted to give him a couple extra euros to make up for all the discounts he's been giving us lately. so when we were checking out, and he said, "3 euros please," adam and i handed him a ten and started to run off.

at which point he shouts out at us, waving our change in the air, "you forgot your change! don't you want it?"

now, i guess we should have just stayed there and quietly explained to him that we wanted to pay him back in a way, but we were halfway to the next stand, and i didn't want to yell out at him what we were doing. i was afraid, with his coworkers there, that he'd get in trouble for hooking us up lately. so i was all, "uh... we're good." and hurried off.

adam and i immediately regretted this because it not only made us look like idiots, but i'm afraid it might have been embarrassing for our veggieboy, who was left standing there with all this money in his hands that he felt didn't really belong to him. especially given that in this culture, you just don't tip. not even your waiter. or, if you do tip your waiter, it's really only the spare change that you have from your order (the extra 20 eurocents from a 3,80 euro tab for example -- and that's not expected and is seen as a very kind gesture).

and now i just feel like a jerk, who made a big cultural faux pas, embarrassed my new friend, and possibly jeapordized my relationship with this nice man. i went back later and explained to him, and apologized, but i had a hard time reading him because he was so busy. so now i feel even more stupid for going back to talk to him when he's busy working. grrrr. crazy pregnancy hormones making me feel dumb, i guess.

but even adam feels dumb too. i guess we just have to chalk this one up to weird cultural differences, and not thinking about the dutch way vs. the american way. we've learned from this, to be sure, but i still am left feeling pretty silly about the whole thing.

hopefully he'll be there next week so i can pretend like this never happened.

1 comment:

teresa said...

i totally feel you. we make serious cultural faux pas, like, mainichi. everyday. omg.