Beggars (Or: Can you spare some change?)
I must admit that the question “Kun je wat missen?” or”Kun je wat geld missen?” is any oddly formed question that manages to reverse itself to get across the objective – it basically translates to “Can you miss some money?” (geld = money), thus implying “Do you have enough gold that you can miss some without feeling the loss too much? If so, I’ll take it!”
Today was the first time that I was asked while walking alone (though it’s possible I’ve heard the question soon after moving here but wasn’t able to translate it). I was walking through a less than affluent neighborhood in The Hague when I spied someone stopping the person walking ahead of me. After they didn’t receive any help from that person, they decided to ask the question to me. Kun je wat geld missen?
I didn’t quite get it at first though I did hear “missen”, so I said “Huh?” (great language skills Niki!) Then the guy asked “Heb je vijftien cents of zo?” – that was thankfully much easier to translate: Do you have 15 cents? I replied truthfully – Nee, ik heb geen geld bij me. (No, I have no money on me.) Why would I be silly enough to carry money when walking through a less than affluent neighborhood? Phone and keys, that’s all you need really!
The Hague did get enact a ban on begging of sorts, although it really just says you have to be a few feet away from the building and can’t stay in one spot too long. I suspect it only for the city center, though.
I must admit that in the 9 or so months I have been in the Netherlands, I have never seen a 1 euro cent piece, much less used one.
But a few days ago I found one:
1 euro cent, 5 euro cents, and an American quarter (25 cents), for size comparison
It was actually in my wallet, of all places. I guess I was given it as change. It’s quite possible that I received it while I was in Dublin’s airport waiting for the flight home. It’s actually quite tiny – much smaller than the euro 5 cent piece.
But I’ve never seen it in use in the Netherlands. I’ve seen a few signs saying that it isn’t accepted at certain stores, but that’s the only reference to it. The reason the 1 cent piece isn’t used here is because when you pay with cash, the prices are rounded up or down to the nearest 5 cents. If you use your debit card, then you pay the exact price.
Since I haven’t been in the Netherlands too long yet, I do not have a bank account. Now that I am registered as a legal resident, I technically can get one at any point, however. One thing that I find a bit strange with the Netherlands is the apparent passivity to receiving and spending large denominations of euros – particularly €50. Especially when you consider that right now €50 is closer to $60.
Oddity #1: Dutch ATMs prefer to give you a €50 bill at all costs. If you ask for €60, you will get a €50 bill and a €10 bill back. In the US, you always get back $20s. Of course, I could ask for €20 each time, but I am still using my American debit card (tied to my Chase account) to withdraw money, and there’s a $5 fee for use in foreign ATMs. That’s fair, but it does mean that I will always try to withdraw €100 to reduce how many times I have to pay the fee. I might withdraw even more (like €200), but considering my luck, the machine would probably give me two €100 bills!
Oddity #2: Most stores seem oddly nonplussed about accepting €50 bills. Of course, this is limited to the stores I have frequented so far, but half the time I expect an alarm to go off and the police to swoop in an arrest me for trying to hand over a €50 bill for a €15 purchase. (I’m joking, but I did have to break a €50 for a €15 purchase today.) I have memories of the hometown Burger King refusing to accept $50 bills even for a purchase around twenty five dollars. So I had it ingrained in me as a child that you just don’t do that. If you can help it. Exceptions: buying clothes, etc, where the total tends to be higher by default.
Oddity #3: Dutch banks will look at you funny if you ask for smaller change. This one I only know from asking questions, but I don’t doubt it. I am used to the US where I had to ride the bus back and forth daily. It wasn’t that far of a ride, so I only needed $1 bills (about $4 a day), but… My routine was to go to the bank every week and break a twenty dollar bill into singles. The bank tellers knew me by name, and sometimes even started counting out singles before I was at the desk. (Useful except when I was really there to withdraw a rent.)
I did see a sign in Xenos (a thrift-ish store) saying no €100 bills or higher, though I do know they will accept €50s (even if your purchase is less than €8…!). Hmm.
Every so often I come across the bag with the change in euros (coins to be precise). What good timing!
In this case, I found €9.20. From left to right: one 20 cent piece, four 50 cent pieces, five euro pieces, and one 2 euro piece.
It’s leftover from one of my trips to the Netherlands I think. Not sure why I brought it back to America rather than giving it to Marco to use though. Oh well!
Today’s amusement: More camp counselors got on the bus today to go to the Palisades Center. There were about 7 or 8 of them, and most of them seemed to be from the UK.
After seeing that the price was $2.10, the first girl asked “That’s a dime. Which one is a dime again?” as she quickly scanned the change in her palm. A helpful counselor behind her piped up, “Just look for the smallest one!”
How much can you get for €10, $.25 (quarter), and $.10 (dime)? Not a lot, but it’s a start.
Of course I breathed a sigh of relief, since I at least know the euro coins carry the denomination printed right on them.
While I am talking about money, what’s the point of Dutch ATMs dispensing €50 instead of €20? If you ask for €60, you get €50 and €10. I would hate to be the poor shopkeeper that had to make change for that (but I guess some just refuse).
Number of days (straight) I have studied Dutch: 4.
Yesterday’s lesson: Verbs: future perfect.
Another busy night! But I did receive an email saying that someone had found my Where’s George? dollar bill and put it in the system. Someone from New York City.
It started in Maryland back in June 2006. I was only a year graduated from college at that point. Hadn’t met Marco yet in person! It got to Pennsylvania in January of the following year. Then me last month (over 5 years later!). Then someone today in NYC.
It’s a hot day here. With that in mind, here’s a nice cooling picture of the Binnenhof fountain. Just don’t drop money in. It can’t be tracked if you do!
Well, it’s not quite a quarter to call, but you get the idea. I found this in my closest last week:
4 quarters from Marco, taped together
A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away… I was but a poor Masters student with not much money to my name. While I had had a part time job after college to save up some money, 90% of it went towards rent during my one and a half years at Rutgers.