Let me start by saying I have had little direct interaction with the locals, so I’m not going to make any assertions about their culture, but I want to talk about my encounters with the Dutch so far.
In general, people have been very nice. On the few occasions I’ve opted to ask for help, people have been very polite and did their best to get me going where I have to be. At restaurants, I’ve had a mixed experience. Most servers are nice in a way you’d kind of expect them to be at a restaurant. Generally, they’re patient with our need for translation to English and they ensure we have a good meal. However, customer service here hasn’t been as good as it usually is in the US, and I have had a few irritable servers. One waitress was quite rude to me when I asked if they had to go boxes.
Me: Do you have anything that I could use to take-
Waitress: Like a box?
Me: Yes or something to-
Waitress: No (turns and walks away)
I actually wanted to believe she was joking and had been sarcastic with me but she absolutely wasn’t. I had been asking this for a friend and when I told her what response I got, she went to ask the waitress herself who snapped, “I just told your friend we don’t have any boxes!” Kristine pressed further and asked if they just had paper towels she could use to wrap her bread up with, and eventually she got some.
So far, my most interesting interactions with the Dutch happened on Friday when we went kind of out of the metropolitan area to Kinderdijk to see the windmills lit up. After the event, we had some time to kill while we waited for the bus. Travis (100% Thai descent) and I were exhausted so we desperately searched for a bench to sit on. We approached a playground with a park bench, but when we got closer noticed two things. One, that it was roped off, and two, that a group of young rowdy boys were ignoring the ropes and being loud and obnoxious in the playground.
Not wanting much to do with them, we walked past them and I heard one yell something in Dutch. Not understanding, I didn’t respond, but the sneer in the voice led me to believe that his comment was directed at us. He seemed disappointed to get no response. Once we had passed, he started yelling, “Ni hao! Ni hao!” in a mocking Chinese accent, as his friends cackled.
Perhaps I have too much pride, but this pissed me off. I had half a mind to turn around and tell him to piss off, and I strongly believe that had I been in the US, I’d have done something. However, I was not in the US, and I didn’t want to drag Travis into anything uncomfortable simply because I had a temper. There were also about 5 of these kids and I had no clue how they’d react to confrontation. So we walked right on by. Not acting when I feel that I should have bothers me more than just about anything else.
I was in a bad mood. It was a long day, all I wanted was a place to sit, and me and Travis had been mocked because we looked Asian. Travis didn’t seem bothered, even when I vented to him a little bit. We kept looking for a bench and after several more blocks, we finally spotted one. It was a sight for sore eyes, but before we were even close, two pretty Dutch girls sat down in it.
I couldn’t be mad at them. I was saying to Travis as we walked past them, “They’re probably tired just like us,” when one of them waved and said, “Hello!” in a very friendly voice. I waved back and walked right past when I decided I had nothing better to do, so I turned back and started talking to them. They were eating “Oliebollen” which they told me was a traditional Dutch treat typically only eaten at the New Year. They gave me a piece to try. It was good.
We chatted for a good 10 or 15 minutes and they were super nice. They even asked me mildly personal questions like what I wanted to do after I was done with school. Eventually they got up to go to a party and Travis and I finally got our bench. They said bye many times as they walked off, and a few minutes later, rode by on their bikes and waved bye again. The bad taste in my mouth left by the jerks at the playground was pretty much gone.
So overall, I can’t conclude much about the Dutch people. I’ve run into more nice people than rude people, enough of both to know they’re not outliers, but not enough of either to draw a strong trend line. On an unrelated note, I may need to brush up on statistics.