Dutch culture (Or: Greetings as you enter a room)

Sorry for the lack of blog posts lately but of course the holidays have been busy. Unfortunately Marco injured his foot on New Year’s Eve (well, after midnight). It was an accident caused by uneven ground and bad lightning.   By Thursday the pain was worse and he was hobbling rather pitifully. Well, I definitely pitied him…  He did some research and decided to go to to the emergency room at MCH Westeinde (same hospital where he was born!) .

He secured a ride from his father and I tagged along to keep him from getting too impatient in the waiting room. As it was not a serious injury we had no way of knowing how long the wait was. My first impression was that the emergency room seemed more like a prison than a hospital – workers behind protective glass, put your insurance and identification card in the tray and slide them across, inner entrance doors locked and requiring a key card, etc. Though I haven’t been in an emergency room in years so that might be standard these days. We were pointed to the waiting room (another door) so we took a seat and waited. Thankfully there were not too many people waiting in the room.

After a few minutes a difference in culture became apparent – anytime a new person would enter a room they would say hello/good morning/etc to the people already in the room. Not something typically done in America. It reminded me of another convention – when Dutchies arrive at a wedding or birthday party they greet everyone by saying “Gefeliciteerd!” (Congrats!), not just the couple who were married or the person whose birthday it was. I still don’t do this tradition myself but that’s partly because it doesn’t come naturally to me yet.

After a while Marco got called in and I stayed behind in the waiting room playing some games on my iTouch and getting occasional updates. His foot was not broken, so no cast, but it was definitely severely sprained. So he got his ankle bound and got to stay home from work for an extra two days. (He was also asked the usual questions – would you like pain medication? No thanks. Would you like to rent some crutches? No thanks.)

The plan is that he goes back to work tomorrow. It seems to be getting better each day – keeping off his feet his helped a lot – but he does have another appointment this week to see how it looks.

So – that was my first Dutch hospital experience. Not too shabby.


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