Showing posts from August, 2011

Brisk or brusque?

I experienced another example of the cross-cultural communication gap yesterday at Paneria's, a local chain of bakeries. This is a Czech-based chain, and the breads, sandwiches, pastries, cakes and salads are quite tasty. But they need, perhaps, a bit of training to distinguish between serving the customer with efficiency and making the customer feel like a cog in the turning wheels of commerce.
I just looked at their website and found their trademark motto: "What do we offer? In just one word - service."
Okay, service, but with a smile? Here's what happeded:

I went into the Paneria store on Francouzska, near my flat. I've been here before, and I know that I can order in Czech, as I've done it before. How hard is it to point and say "jeden" (one)?

But this time my little blonde server had an attitude. She was brisk--well, she was brusque. She made it very clear that I was testing her patience, and not just with my poor language skills in Czech, but with …

why I hate umbrellas

July is over, but its wetness is not. It rained in the Czech Republic as many days as not in July. There was flooding in the mountains as the brooks and streams filled and overflowed.

I love rain, so it's fine with me. In Prague, rain washes the grimy streets and cleanses the dog-doo sidewalks. It rarely rains hard--these are not the Florida cloudbursts we had for 17 years, but are the gentle Irish-types rains that you can get through without an umbrella.

Which is a good thing, because I hate umbrellas. They are ugly, cumbersome and baffling, in that order.
  1. Umbrellas are ugly. Even the word "umbrella" is ugly. It sounds like you're clearing your throat. Anything made of cheap metal, polyester and plastic HAS to be ugly. Umbrellas are so dispiriting that they make me want to just stay home.

2. Umbrellas are cumbersome. You have to carry them. Even the little fold-up types are a nuisance. They are yet another thing to forget, like your purse or your keys or yo…