Are Europeans 'inflexible'?

Old Jul 18th, 2006, 12:30 PM
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clevelandbrown I think your post is very valid, I think much of Europe might be hamstrung by tradition when compared to a more ?entrepreneurial/?progressive USA.

I just don't think that th OPs points about not being able to get a sandwich were a particularly good example.

Without moving too much into the realms of politics, I think that "management" often use terms like "flexibility" to justify changes in working practice that benefit nobody except shareholders. (I don't care how flexible I become, I cannot compete with a factory paying workers $1.50 an hour in Indonesia)

I like a great many traditions - I think many from the US come to Europe because of those traditions. I await a post saying "I visited Siena in early August, but the campo was full of horse racing and I could hardly move for people why can't these people move on"
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Old Jul 18th, 2006, 12:50 PM
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Within minutes of Cindi's post, she was drawing the ire of the "Europe always smells like Roses" crowd. To these people, Cindi obviously wants "everything to be exactly as it is at home". How many times has that platitude been posted in this forum masquerading as an original thought?

A vocal minority of forum participants idealize Europe as a ten-year-old boy idolizes a sports star. Every observation must be interpreted in the most noble light, regardless of how irrational the reasoning.

Lazy and apathetic waiters are actually valiant warriors struggling against the impersonal and greedy forces of capitalism. They are, after all, championing a better way of life. Apparently, the right to be lazy and apathetic is an essential element in the quality of life.

That taxi driver that ripped you off during your last visit was not greedy, but rather was making a social statement for a liveable wage and protesting the inequalities of a global economy. After all, wealthy self-satisfied American tourists can afford to subsidize the European working poor.

The drunks that urinate in the streets of Paris every night should be celebrated for their refusal to conform to the prudish and inhibited American lifestyle.

As ridiculous as these interepretations may appear, they reflect a style of logic that is not difficult to find in these "culture war" threads.

The notion that only "bad tourists" compare America with Europe is absurd. Thoughtful travelers are always mentally processing their experiences and comparisons to the familiar are inevitable.

I admire many things about Europe, but not the working habits of the blue-collar class. Obviously, these workers were the inspiration for the Merry Ol' Land of Oz -
"We get up at noon and we go to work at one. Take an hour for lunch and then at two were done. Jolly Good Fun."
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Old Jul 18th, 2006, 12:56 PM
  #83  
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I agree with janisj.
I guess most people anywhere in Europe can well do without cindiloowho as a customer. Too much arrogance, too little respect for cultural differences. Makes me shiver to read the explanations.
And the spaghetti example is pointless to boot. Would the place have made more money if they had given cindi a doggy bag? I guess not.
I do like to spend time in the U.S. for various reasons, but then I do find there are some incapacities to deal with there, too. But it would never occur to me to demand to be treated differently from what others are being treated there.
Differences are a fact of life, and one should adapt to them - rather than smugly pointing out that one is positive about how things should be handled in a better way.
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Old Jul 18th, 2006, 01:08 PM
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cindi is clearly a poor spokeswoman for her position. however i do not discount all of her points. most american europhiles simply do not spend enough time in europe or on a level other than a holidaymaker to be able to see the dark side to "old ways". obviously, i am not in favour of discarding old ways entirely but i'm also not in favour of blindly embracing them.

blindly whitewashing everything that comes from a land other than your own does not make you worldly or open minded...in fact it belies exactly the opposite.
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Old Jul 18th, 2006, 01:09 PM
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"For a relatively small area, where travel is so common, Europeans seem to have retained their national ways to a high degree. "

That's because Europe is made up of forty-plus different countries! Why on earth shouldn't they retain their national ways? Do Europeans complain because people in Panama, Peru and the US do things differently?

Please feel free to decry the differences between Europe and the US, but don't forget that although the US is one country (albeit a large one), Europe is not.
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Old Jul 18th, 2006, 01:42 PM
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"I would suggest that it is Americans who are flexible, while Europeans are much less so."

I don't think so. Americans may eat many foods of foreign origin but we eat them in a radically altered, laughably de-natured form so that it's acceptable to us.

We may have adopted some foreign words but we horribly botch their pronunciation!
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Old Jul 18th, 2006, 01:58 PM
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When I read the original post, my only particularly critical thought was that it wasn't Europe she was speaking about, it was Spain- the point being that everywhere's different. And I was going to defend cindi, but post 3 blew it for me.

We're just back from South West France, where we get real scumnnered with the "ferme le lundi" thing, but, as had been mentioned, how boring would it be if we were all the same.

Incidentally, I finally read "Sixty Million Frenchmen Can't be Wrong", which I've owned for ages. It's a fascinating insight into the French psyche and not at all the flippant humourous read I thought it was going to be.

I found application after application to be spot on. Zizou's coup de tete, for example.
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Old Jul 18th, 2006, 02:05 PM
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Believe me - I don't sugar coat or idolize service shortcomings in Europe. I lived in the UK for about five years and little things annoyed/bugged me nearly every day. But I did not expect them to cater to me and change how things are done - Just because "we know how to do it better back home". I adapted to the local customs and it was the best 5 years of my life . . . . . .
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Old Jul 18th, 2006, 02:11 PM
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Thats the thing janisj, there are things about Italy I wish were different at times, but "when in Rome". BTW, I remember my first time in Rome back in the 1970's. We ran into several complaining Americans who almost seemed to have their trip ruined because they couldn't get a typical American breakfast (fried eggs, bacon etc).
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Old Jul 18th, 2006, 02:39 PM
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Cindy- I hear 'ya, and in my 30 plus years of traveling around Europe and other parts of the globe, I think there is a great deal of validity in what you say, particularly about Spain, which has never been one of my favorite places, although I have a number of friends from Barcelona/Madrid whom I like a great deal-but they're all in the professional class, so life is very different for them.

About Spain, here's the thing: There's been a G8 summit this past week in St. Petersburg, Russia-the G8 leaders represent the 8 most powerful economies in the world.

Italy is there-it's #7, so is Canada. But is Spain, with one of the highest unemployment rates anywhere in the western world? nope. Why? well, part of it is due in no small part to that "siesta mentality" you spoke of.

And I think the country needs to shake off some of that old world mentality and get with the 21st century, if they want to advance the standard of living for their citizens, or else they're going to sink even further economically and become more like a "developing" nation - more than it is already.

And by the way cindiloo-if you travel perchance travel to the so-called "developing countries" (which I highly recommend) i.e., China, Thailand, Vietnam, Phillipines, etc., you'll find NONE of that siesta mentality there-far from it-these countries operate 24 hours a day-you can find food at all times of the day or night-if you want to buy something, they WILL do business with you-that's what it's all about, and that is why these very countries will be the true economic powerhouses in the years to come-leaving much of Europe behind in the dust.

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Old Jul 18th, 2006, 02:46 PM
  #91  
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Well, HO! Got you'all talking anyway. No idea such a though would bring out all this angst!. Good on you all!!
But no one mentioned the 'grafiti'. Is that a good 'cultural' thing or no? And how many people responding to the post have actually spent much time in a foreign land. If you all will hearken back to the original post, I was querying the notion that sometime firm ideas of 'tradition' often 'morph' into rigidity, and that a society, any society, does well to acknowledge the difference. I have lived in the middle east (yes, I put on the head scarf and veil like every other woman and didn't complain too loudly), stood in the ally to receive my ice cream cone from 31 flavors (women are not allowed in public places), and have lived in London, asia, and the east coast, both up and down, have travelled all over the known world (at least superficially)and have kept diaries, met friends all over the globe. Now, what's wrong with the idea that it makes sense to take what's is good in a culture and protect it, while keeping an open mind to change. Inflexibility has killed many a company, drowned many a business, and made a ghost town out of some places. i.e., while sole old mining towns, when the vein ran dry, just folded up, while others (exmples come to mind in Mexico, and New Mexico where Ihave travelled extensively) that have 'revamped and reorganized, learned to 'sell' something different, take a new attitude.My original thought (and most of you digress) what: Are Europeans too steeped in tradition to make changes that would be, ultimately, to their benefit? It's not about the sandwich I didn't get...get over that idea.
 
Old Jul 18th, 2006, 03:35 PM
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I didn't mention graffiti because my own home city in the U.S. is covered in it.

And now you believe none of us answering your question has "spent time in a foreign land"?

You're the one who used the sandwich example, but now we should "get over that idea"?

I think you have a valid question somewhere in all of this, but have not presented it very well imo.
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Old Jul 18th, 2006, 03:57 PM
  #93  
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Wow Suze...no wonder you like Europe better...don't know what town you hail from but glad it's not mine. Here the weather is cool, the folks are friendly, lots of variety and it's a great place to be. We live just down the hill from the great Bill Gates, who took an idea and ran with it...didn't hurt him any, did it?
 
Old Jul 18th, 2006, 04:10 PM
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Wait just a minute, I never once said I liked Europe better, I just think you are making hash out of trying to present your idea.

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Old Jul 18th, 2006, 04:11 PM
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Come to SF Suze if you want to see grafatti and lots of homeless, lol.
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Old Jul 18th, 2006, 04:17 PM
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It's especially interesting because (like so much that's being complained about on this thread) I never thought of graffiti as a bad thing -LOL.

LoveItaly, San Francisco is a favorite of mine but I call Seattle home.
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Old Jul 18th, 2006, 04:24 PM
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I know you do Suze, but I wasn't going to mention it, lol. So you two are sort of neighbors I guess?

Actually grafatti doesn't bother me either Suze, Italy is always covered with it. I do feel sorry for the business owners in SF that constantly have their building windows scratched and etched though. Very expensive to replace and an ongoing problem.
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Old Jul 18th, 2006, 04:34 PM
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Funny, that's one thing that really bothered me about Rome. I don't think graffiti is art or even interesting, cultural, or an important sign of anything except a lack of restraint, supervision, and disdain for property.
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Old Jul 18th, 2006, 04:34 PM
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Well Suze, whadaya know? My home town is Seattle too, and I don't see any 'grafiti' here in my part of Seattle? Where do you live.? Any why do you feel so strong on this subject? In fact, I have always been amazed at how well integrated we are in the PNW and (lots of diversity) and how we make it work, not withstanding 'tradition'(and we have a large Asian and Hispanic community that are also steeped in their own traditions. But they blend and work together, rather effectively, I must say. And that's what makes us innovative and progressive..so many of the people I met overseas would give their 'eye teeth' to live here (they tell me). But I digress, back to the original post, which you seem determined to misunderstand. Please say something that relates to my thought, or mention another topic that we could discuss (amiablely, of course). Once again: Do we (fodorities) think that tradition morphs sometimes to ridigity and rigidity gets in the way of common sense, and is there any difference in the way Americans and Europeans view this topic (obviously an interesting one if you go by the number of respondents and the 'feeling' that it engenders.)
 
Old Jul 18th, 2006, 04:39 PM
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yes just waiting for cindiloo to say there's no graffiti in Seattle, but now i really am terribly off-topic so will leave it...

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