Thursday, February 01, 2007

The reliable europeans

Eddie and I are soon to hit the shores of Thailand for a week or two of relaxation before the weight of the responsibility of new parenthood bears down on us in June. We decided to go back to Koh Phangan to a particular beach where we spent 2 1/2 weeks over Chrissy and New Year last year. While we were there last time we met these two very funny brothers from Sweden who we spent most nights with cracking jokes, drinking beer, smoking spliffs, lying around in hammocks and generally having a good time.

Cause we're going back to the same place Ed shot off an email to the brothers a while ago inviting them to come and meet us, because it would be fun to see them again but also partly as a challenge and to torture them a little as they plow through the cold and dark of a long Scando winter.

Anway one of the brothers Jan, wrote back and said he would come. Simple as that. Being unreliable Aussies we didn't really think he would be coming cause we didn't hear anything again. Ed sent an email again the other day saying are you really coming? Back came the reply along the lines of - "of course...see you there." Simple as that again.

Apart from being great news it really got me thinking about how unreliable and high maintenance us Aussies are. Jan is coming halfway across the world and it's needed just two emails to arrange to meet up with him. I have dinner parties with friends that live up the road that take more doing. Invites are issued, then there is the inevitable argy bargy about dates and who's 'available', then there are follow up emails reassuring the invitees it's still on and then maybe later or even on the actual day there will be a flurry of calls or texts to check once again that the said event is still, really on. Even at this point it also seems to be acceptable to pull out or cancel on people (cause it seems you're never really committed until you're walking through the door.)

According to a German friend of mine this neurotic checking is a peculiarly Australian affliction and it infruriates her. Particularly the fact that even though a date has been set, no-one seems to be prepared to commit to it until the 11th hour which of course means a quick text can wriggle you out of most engagements. She reckons one time an Australian friend cancelled on her a few hours beforehand and her excuse was 'I need to go shoe shopping' and seemed to think this was an acceptable excuse. One time Ed and I had said to her we might come over on a certain date for a visit a few weeks later. Being Aussies we asssumed it wasn't on because it wasn't discussed again, confirmed, reconfirmed so we didn't show. Being German she assumed we had discussed it once, agreed to it and so of sourse it was on. Whoops..

It is a pretty awful way to socialise. I have another friend who is notoriously unreliable and who as a result I almost never see. We make dates to catch up but I have to work on the assumption that at least 70 percent of the time the day before or in some cases a few hours before she will text to say 'sorry can't make it'. It means that I never really commit to the arrangment either and usually have made a back up plan of some sort because I know she probably won't show. I say things like "oh well I'm meant to be catching up with XXX but she probably won't show so I'll probably be free.."

Another Aussie friend living in Germany has noticed the difference as well - it seems with Europeans you could make a date 15 years ago and unless someone dies or a tornado wipes out your house you will be there. There is no checking, no calling and certainly no last minute texting to wriggle out of it - it's just on.

So Ed and I are thinking like Europeans for our Scandanavian meet up - in fact the three of us haven't even bothered to make a meeeting place at our small beachside village. We've just said - see you there. Nice and simple.


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