Sunday, May 3

The Dutch Way: twee

*original writing date: 9 March 2006*

Second on my ‘Dutch way’ list is the traditional line or ‘queue’ as the British would say.

The Dutch don’t seem to have a word for it ‘cause they just don’t do it.

Occasionally, you may see a proper line form in front of the cash register at the neighborhood shops or behind an ATM machine, but that’s as far as it goes. In general, while waiting for a turn at the Butcher’s counter, at the cheese shop, or at any of the stalls in the Market, you must be courageous and bold to get yourself positioned at the counter. You must be willing to push past the masses who in turn are trying to push past you and answer the question “Wie is aan de buurt? (Who is next?) with a very loud “Ik!!” (Me!!)

As for boarding a bus or a train? Well, forget everything your mother taught you about courtesy or waiting for your turn. You must join the pressing throng all trying to occupy the same space at once and position yourself so that as soon as the door slides open you can move forward and fight your way in. I think there are points awarded for the number of people you can step in front of or elbow out of the way as you vie for position. And, by all means please begin the press before allowing passengers on the vehicle to disembark. Oh, my, allowing others to “uitstappen” (exit) before you clamor to get on could very well cost you a seat.

As Emma and I await our second bus in the mornings, I grab the back of her coat as the bus approaches, push her forward a step and whisper “be Dutch” in her ear.

This has proven to be an effective method in getting ourselves properly placed in the crowd and we can beat others to the seats on a busy morning bus.

Yup, we're pretty much Dutch.


  1. Funny. I didn't feel that way when I visited. Maybe because it was the weekend and folks aren't in such a hurry.

  2. i experienced that when i visited Rome--it's very disconcerting

  3. I remember from living there that we were forced to do this or do without. It really is difficult for a shy person to move about over there and it's a good lesson about densely populated countries.

  4. it's very Belgian too and it's so bad that eg in London or somewhere else while waiting for a bus I'd not notice there is a queue ...I simple see that at the pole in front there is so much space to stand, so that is my waiting spot....right where the door hopefully will pull up.

  5. A new blogging friend pointed me your way when she found out we're moving to Holland next month. I'm so glad to find you--though I understand you are moving soon?

    Cheers from England! (where they queue for everything--lol)