Labour Day Weirdness

Diogenes's picture

In Canada, the Monday following the first weekend in September is Labour Day, a nationally recognized holiday where we honour all those who would like another day off work.

Here in the Netherlands, there are no long weekends. There are holidays and vacations, but no long weekends. This would go against the Dutch Calvinist view of life.

I have noticed that on the first Monday of every month, at high noon, all kinds of strange sirens sound off from all directions.

I don't know what to make of this. Do I run for the basement? There is no basement, only a canal. Do I inflate the raft? I can't get it down the stairs if I do that.


Do I listen to the radio? But I don't understand Dutch!

Ik spreek geen Nederlands!

The first installment of the Reluctant Traveller Diaries is now complete, sort of. Here we offer our view on Norway.

And it just keeps getting weirder!

cleaningWindows2 (100K)

What the hell !??

windowGuy (41K)

This morning I'm reading the news on my computer, sipping a coffee, when I hear this sharp noise behind me. I bolt around and see this guy at my window!

We live on the 7th floor of an apartment, which is actually on the 8th floor, but these crazy people in Europe start counting from zero. I digress.

I should explain why I was startled. Even with the foregoing explanation, many Dutch people will still be wondering why I would be startled. Ask any Dutch person what they like least about their country and the answer is almost always something like I don't like all the damn people!

We live some 80 feet above ground, higher than most of the trees around. One gets accustomed to a certain privacy this elevation offers.

It was nothing to be alarmed about. It was just the window cleaning guy. He does this every month. Every Month!

Man, I love the clean windows here.

In the Netherlands, they have these amazing hoists for all sorts of purposes, including cleaning windows and moving households. The elevators are small here, the staircases smaller. So when you move, they hoist things in through windows.

cleaningWindows3 (64K)

Are we clear?

Some time ago, I had the fortune misfortune opportunity to live in London for a year.

One day, multitasking as best I can by simultaneously ironing and listening to the radio, I heard this story about a doctor who had developed cancer. It was eventually fatal despite heroic efforts at treatment.

In his will he bequeathed the hospital, where he had spent his final days, a sum of money to clean the windows.

England has serious issues with MRSA (also known as superbug) in its hospitals. This is the bacteria that defies all conventional antibiotic treatments. The presence of MRSA in a hospital can be an indicator of poor hygiene practices.

Apparently, the windows at this particular hospital had not been cleaned in seven years, owing to health funding management priorities and all. The rain does a good enough job, right gov?

The radio host invited callers to phone in with their opinion on this.

Some callers argued that this was a stupid use of money when it could be better spent on cancer drug research. The good doctor obviously saw this in a different light. He probably still does.

England can be a silly place.

I like the Netherlands. Life is good here, as it should be.

Hey, how about some theme music?