Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Snow boarding, Anecdotes

Yesterday my whole research group went snow boarding and go-kart racing at an indoor facility in Den Haag (The Hague). It was a blast! I'm dying to get on a snow board again so I can add some steering skills to my existing ability to remain upright. (It's tough when you can stay upright at high speeds but can't steer very effectively ... snow boarding in the mountains would surely end with me plummeting off the side of a mountain.) I also found out two illuminating pieces of information yesterday with regard to customs here, which I thought I would share.

After spending Monday and Tuesday giving people handshakes and "Best wishes for the New Year" like a good transplant, I was told last night that January 6th is generally the statute of limitations on best wishes. I noticed people still doling them out today, though, so it must be more like a guideline than an actual rule.

I think Laura and I have well-documented the regular occurrence here ("here" meaning "on the European mainland") of cashiers expressing disdain when given inexact change - for instance, a purchase of €3.90 paid for with a €5. Several of my Dutch coworkers let me in on the secret - apparently the reason cashiers are so tightfisted with their change is because banks here charge businesses money to get the change in the first place. Whether it is a substantial amount of money or businesses here are tightwads remains a mystery to me. (I know that when I worked for Radio Shack, I got change from the bank for free.)


Rich said...

What a crazy place. Basically the banks are telling the businesses "We'll give you 95 (or whatever) cents in change for that dollar."

Hopefully the US banks don't start doing it to help with the current economic crunch... If that happens I'm holding you personally responsible for it Matt (hey, you posted this info, serves you right).

Hope you get some sleep before watching the game tonight!

Matt said...

I would curse the banks for their role in all of the awkward change counting moments Laura and I have endured, but there is a slight silvering lining for banking in Europe vs. the US - here, you're a lot less likely to draw ATM fees and can generally withdraw money from the ATMs of banks other than your own for free. Imagine how much money that could save you over the long term on a Friday night in Gainesville...