Invader Stu: The Dutch waiter

The first mistake anyone can make when entering a Dutch bar, café or restaurant and trying to get the waiters' attention is: entering a Dutch bar, café or restaurant and trying to get the waiters attention. Dutch waiters simply don’t like their attention being got. It is a fact of nature.

Trying to get the attention of a Dutch waiter

Trying to get the attention of a Dutch waiter, waitress or any other member of bar staff is a battle of wills which can rarely be won. You might eventually get served but this only occurs when the Dutch waiter has decided to acknowledge your attempts to do so (which they will still do begrudgingly).

For example: whenever you enter a café in Holland it is inevitable that the waiter behind the bar is cleaning a glass. It is also inevitable that they will suddenly develop extreme tunnel vision and your approach to the bar will go unnoticed.

The glass cleaning technique

In addition to this, they will become extremely dedicated to the cleanliness and hygiene of that one single glass in a way that suggests an extreme case of obsessive compulsive disorder as they clean it over and over again and seemingly fails to notice you waiting for them to put it down.

It should be noted that a blind and deaf man has more awareness of his surroundings than a Dutch waiter who wants to avoid dealing with customers.

This glass cleaning technique will continue well past the point of uncomfortable-ness and force you to question your own existence as all of your coughing, arm waving and flair firing continue to go unnoticed during their Gollum like fascination with the very clean glass.

However, if you have the strength to wait long enough even a Dutch waiter will eventually have to admit to themselves that the glass is clean enough, put it down and (if they don’t pick up another) let their attention be got.

Don't order in Dutch!

There is one very important thing that must be remembered once you have the attention of a Dutch waiter: do not attempt to order in Dutch. Seriously, don’t do it.

The waiter is already unhappy that they had to give you their attention. If you attempt to order in Dutch you will become their play thing as they pick your Dutch speaking ability to pieces and refuse to for fill your order until you can pronounce it better than Queen Beatrix herself.

You will not be allowed to switch back to English either. They will force you to finish what you started in the interest of, "learning the language."

In fact, Dutch waiters are so strict when it comes to the use of their own language that if they were used as part of the Inburgeringstoets process (Dutch Immigration and citizenship test) most applicants would probably end up being barred from the country. That or give up after being ignored for so long and move to Belgium.

You better enjoy that beer!

You better enjoy that beer once you have it because it will be a long time until you get another. Dutch waiters really don’t like their attention to be got.

Invader Stu is an accident prone Englishman who has been suffering from Dutch culture shock for the last ten years. Enjoy his stories, more of which can be found on Invading Holland.

Stuart B


Stuart B

An accident prone Englishman living in Holland since 2001. Still not great with the language but finds stampot lekker.

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