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If I had a column in the Delft op Zondag

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(Not the real)
Delft op Zondag


25 SEPTEMBER, 2016

Doe, maar gewoon - Do but go easy

DELFT - It is hard to avoid an impression that Dutch folk are hard-working, determined people. Also that they do not work long hours. A carpentry worker or handyman (in Dutch, a timmerwerker) shows up at 8 and works until around 3:30.

That sounds like 'nice work if you can get it' to some because 3:30 is early to quit working - to an American. It was not much different when I worked in an office. If you worked past 4:30, you were there by yourself. An usual working day also includes a good hour's lunch. Americans work much longer hours and some take it home with them. Its expected. No matter chart comparisons, output for both is high and on time and often right.


"I used to rent down the street from The Cloisters cafe and another time up VrouwJuttenland from their corner. I remember going in for a beer one day, and they had a beer from Austin, Texas, on tap - honest."

I must admit that I am one of the lazy, crazy and sensitive types. My brand of odd is like an old t-shirt, with holes, that is soft and familiar. And in a town like Delft, you can be out of the fast lane easily.

I used to enjoy attending Awareness retreats or classes. We all have noise in our heads, and we all want a little less of it. I always came away from those sessions with a new idea about things. One especially has stuck, the penny up close. It goes: if you hold a penny up in front of one eye and shut the other one, all you see is the penny. Put down the penny and open both eyes; things have more perspective. When I first heard that, I thought it was very deep. Curiously after all these years, I still do - go figure.

Of course I am excluding that small chunk of the population that is mostly useless on any business' dashboard. I mean the lazy ones, the crazies and the sensitive. By who's measure? Unwritten law that says work, work this way, stay on the stairs.

Most of us can force and fake enough of ourselves to work a job. And if we do it long enough, the payoff is not having to work but getting money anyway. Besides by that time, that stage, a person is old. From a builder to a burden over a lifetime.

Things are not that stark in Delft from what I see. Frequently, there are grandparents with their grandchildren going about. At intersections, I lookout for kamikazi delivery kids on mopeds and old people on fast, electric powered go carts.

Older Dutch seem pretty feisty to me. I see them on bikes going anywhere they want. Some bikes have electric assist which helps ones less able. But the point to me is that they are out and getting about on their own. Taking it slower, but doing.

I happened past The Cloisters just recently; summer is going west but this was a warm, sunny day. Usually all the chairs are filled with people but not this day. An old man had it to himself, king of the street, and all his pennies were far away.

G. Wiley / NLStrabo - © Copyright - All rights reserved -
In memory of Herb Caen