Thursday, October 25, 2007

A Real Dutchman…

Day #3: Thursday, 25 October 2007

A real Dutchman understands the legendary bureaucracy of the Dutch government. Today, we experienced it firsthand.

After a half day of school for the kids, we set off (with a representative from our relocation company) to The Hague, a beautiful city to the west of A’dam and the home to much of the country’s and the E.U.’s government offices.

A process that should have been very simple—take our 4 passports, record their numbers, and insert simple stamp to confirm/allow/recognize temporary residency—turned into a 2-hour affair. We watched in wonder as data was entered, double and triple-checked, and recorded by the nice clerk. Next to her sat her boss (?), who double checked and confirmed all of her pen and keystrokes. Mostly, he chatted in Dutch with our helper about topics unknown to us. While I’m sure that similar processes are muddled down elsewhere in the world, the Dutch almost take pride in their layers of bureaucracy. “When a process works smoothly in this country,” said our assistant Michel, “it is changed immediately.”

I climbed back aboard the workout train today (finally) to shake off many days of physical inactivity. Stacey said she was jealous of my hour run tonight, but I think it’s best if she gets another day of rest in after her marathon last Sunday. By the way, her 3:49 at the Nike San Francisco Women’s Marathon placed her 140th overall.

A trip to the bank this morning helped me sort out a number of questions. In Holland, everything is done via debit card, with currency a distant second and credit cards nearly non-existent. Other Dutch expats and former expats reading this are certainly nodding their heads in agreement…it’s a system that takes a while to get accustomed to.

Some notes from the grocery store trip this evening: If you love smoked/honey/sweetened slice turkey and can't live without it, it's probably best that you don't move to the Netherlands. Same goes for cooking spray of any sort, low-fat microwavable popcorn, and small ziploc bags. Not that I need any of these…I’m just sayin’.

Cole was so tired tonight that he actually fell asleep in the bathtub. That’s a first.

Tomorrow: Visit the city registration office and obtain a parking permit.


Lisa Smith-Batchen said...


What a wonderful new chapter for you and the family.
Falling asleep in the bath tub sounds like a wonderful thing to me:)
Thanks for keeping this blog so we can all keep up with you.
Lisa and Jay

olga said...

Looks like you guys are settling in. So how was that hour run, streets, or you found your way to pastures?