Try and follow my train of thought here, it takes a couple of weird turns.
Let me preface this post by saying that this is not an expat blog. I don’t wax on and on about how the Dutch do this or why the Dutch do that. I prefer to spend my time trying to blend in and experience life in the Netherlands rather than ostracize myself by pointing out how Dutch people are different than me because of x, y, z.
THAT BEING SAID, I was on the way home from work tonight after an event (Dutch company, mostly Dutch guests) when it hit me that there is nothing quite like a Dutch person at a bar at the end of the night after the bar closes. After last call, whether it is out of sheer stubbornness or a complete lack of shame, you will always, ALWAYS get a few Dutch people begging at the bar for more drinks, no please just one, aw come on you can sell me one, it’s just me, one beer won’t hurt, etc, etc, etc. They even have the nerve to get annoyed with you if you are firm, but I imagine that’s mostly the alcohol speaking at that point in the night.
In my 13 years of bar work (in 4 countries), I have served citizens from pretty much every member state of the United Nations. In Brussels the bar where I worked looked onto the EU parliament building- a parade of Europeans would come there to drink after work, so I had a lot of time to study the different countries’ attitudes and habits in a bar scenario. I tried to think: was there any other culture that is as annoyingly persistant (from a bar work perspective) at the end of the night? Nope, really not. I can pick out some other strong seemingly country-specific traits, such as: Spanish customers- always order tea or coffee, always come in a large group but pay separately, never tip. But that end-of-night begging for drink thing? That right there is very Dutch.
I tried to think of how it is in the States, but that’s when it hit me that I really have no clue. My entire adult life (from the age of 20 to 31) has been spent in Europe, the European bar culture is what I know. What I know of the American bar culture is from my few trips there as an adult, basically a tourist experience. At one point, in New York City, I had to sheepishly ask my bartender friend (Irish born and raised but he’d spent 5 years bartending in NYC at that point) how I was supposed to tip in the States. I left the country before I was old enough to drink in bars. I have waited on Americans in Europe though. Their country-specific trait? They ask a lot of questions (“What brand of water do you serve?”).
And yet, and yet. Back to my earlier point. That begging for drink at the end of the night, after last call, after the bar is closed? That is something that I don’t think I will ever get used to, nor will I ever do, no matter how long I’m here, whether I am drinking with or serving alcohol to the Dutch population.
And that’s about as expat-y as this blog will get.