Category Archives: J’en ai marre

Reality catching up

If a week after the delightful, almost magical experience of resolving a problem quickly and painlessly, you have neither received a call nor an email confirming that indeed, everything is ok; and you start to wonder what’s going on; the only solution (after nobody answers your calls) is to go and see for yourself.

Only to find out that your file has been, oh well, kind of forgotten. Because “your phone number was lacking”, though you distinctively remember providing this essential bit of information. Before you even get to ask why nobody thought about emailing you, it dawns on you that this is just reality setting in.

And you realize: Everything is back to normal.


Cold Curitiba

After one year and a half in the warm and sunny Northeast of Brazil, I moved a mere 2700 km south – to Curitiba. While the first few weeks were sunny and not too cold – a beautiful autumn, the rainy and grey winter seems to be setting in right now.

Now, I don’t mind the cold. As long as it is nice and warm when I’m inside. Which it is not! Houses & apartments here have neither insulation nor double-glazed windows. Actually, you can already be happy if the windows are closing properly. In other words, inside temperatures are way too close to outside temperatures for my liking.

What annoys me most is people here telling me over and over again: “Mas você é alema. Faz muito frio na Alemanha.” – ‘You’re German. It get’s very cold in Germany’. To leave no doubt: Yes, it does. But in Germany, houses have f*&$^ing HEATING!

Quantity vs quality

It really makes me angry: Another debate, another remark à la “I have X years of experience in this”; or “I have studied this”; or my personal favourite “I have done an internship on this”.

What is the point you are trying to make? That you and your advice can be trusted because of some random experience heaven knows how many years ago? I’m sorry, but a master and even a PhD in something does not equal knowledge or genuine experience. You might have a degree but that does not tell me how much effort you really put into it. How much of it you remember today. How valid your experiments were, how significant your data.

There are way too many self-proclaimed experts. Claiming authority by seniority doesn’t work for me. Convince me with arguments, with sharing knowledge, with showing me why you would be right. But please don’t come with this “you can trust me on that one because I know…”

Traffic trafiqué à la Bruxelloise

Having spent more time on public transport than I would prefer to recently, I’m still startled at how badly people in Brussels drive.

I always thought it a good habit – one might say intelligent – not to drive into a crossroad when you can see that you won’t cross it (sic!) during the green light. Here, already driving schools drive into the cross road when the traffic light turns yellow (if not red) and thus block the traffic from the crossing road. Of course, drivers from that road will (have to) do the same just in order to get forward somehow. That life would be much  traffic would flow better if everybody would stop when a crossing isn’t possible in the first place, hasn’t not been understood.

But then again, it makes kind of a weird sense. Traffic light in this city have apparently not been built to guide the traffic but to obstruct it actively. The concept of the green wave – traffic lights turning green in a rhythm that allows cars to drive smoothly without stopping if driving at a certain speed (50 km/h) – is utterly unknown. Busses and more often than not, tramways are sharing a lane with the cars, blocking each other with amazing efficiency from advancing.

I can’t help but wonder if some of the so-called urban development in this city is only bad planning or intentionally bad. If it is meant to keep the cars out of the city, this much is sure, it clearly hasn’t worked.

2 versions of a story

Ideal world:

Me: Good morning
Colleague: Good morning. How are you?
Me: Fine, and you?
C: Fine too but listen I have a problem with the computer. Would you mind having a look on it after grabbing a coffee?
Me: Sure, no problem.

Real world:

Me: Good morning.
C: Can you tell me why this computer is not working??
Me: Good morning… First, I get a coffee; then I’ll have a look.
C: “…”
Me thinking: “I’m sure most people are taught manners as children. But some are better than others in eradicating them from their daily behaviour.”

Good question

News on the dirty laundry

Not even a month after sending the email contestant les faits, i.e. contesting the fine for putting out the garbage on a non-collection day, I received another letter from the commune. What I wrote was not enough to challenge the facts, says the letter n°2. What letter n°1 did not say was that I had only one shot to get this right.

My new choice now is to pay a 40 euro fine – instead of the initial 80 – or to go to court. For this, I would have to pay 35 euro: les frais de requête auprès du Greffe du Tribunal. But never mind. What annoys me is that I will give in.

Something inside me is nagging that I should not give in by principle. But the other side very insistently makes the point that I ‘saved’ 40 euro and that I really have other things to do. Only for the nagging side to retort that this is probably what most people do and this is why the commune doesn’t even need to proof that the garbage was collected that day neither bothers telling me what the hell I’m supposed to do: Come back from work and check if the rubbish bags are gone?

**Imaginez à cette place une très forte insulte de votre choix**

Insights in the human brain

Where does the ‘need’ come from  to dismiss, disqualify or disdain what others are interested in and passionate about? It doesn’t matter if you are into modern art, cooking, IT, history, cars, architecture, whatever – more often than not, someone will make a down-looking comment on it: that is so boring, that is so old fashioned, this is so nerdy, etc.

Why can’t we just admit that we don’t care, are not interested or have no clue of the matter at stage?


How does it come that if you are doing something for a group out of stupidity kindness like buying water, fixing the IT, whatever, you suddenly become responsible for it in the eyes of everybody?

Why does nobody else takes the initiative any longer? Why is everybody waiting for you to do it? And why are people annoyed if you refuse or just see that you get your stuff but not theirs?

To say “you are good at this”, or “but you have done it before, why not now”, is not encouraging at all. On the contrary, it gives the impression that you are punished for taking care. Not exactly the incentive to give…

ID yourself

For the first time ever, there was an ID control on the Thalys travelling from Brussels to Paris. As I am not registered in Germany any longer, I can’t have my German ID card extended neither get a new one. All I got is the German passport and my Belgian ID.

Only, as I kind of knew and got lectured about by the Belgian police in the train, this Belgian ID is not more than a residency card for non Belgians. It is not a valid ID proof outside of Belgium.Or so I have been told.

What I don’t understand is why I got on a plane with this card three times this year: to Vienna, to Ljubljana, to Berlin and back. Honestly, I did not even have my passport with me these three times. And what is the point of the Schengen zone and me being fully registered in Belgian, paying taxes and all the etcs included, if I can’t even travel with the only official document I got?