Sunday, January 23, 2011

Insider Service - extract from "The Expat's Pajamas"

by R.S. Gompertz

After you’ve lived in Spain for a while, you’ll grow immune to the occasional frustrations that once got under your skin. The squat matriarch who bustles in front of you in the crowded bakery to grab the last baguette won’t offend your sense of fairness; she lived through the war, after all. You’ll find deep reserves of patience for the car stopped ahead of you, hazard lights flashing, while the driver, who’s also your neighbor, calmly paralyzes traffic to milk a cash machine and chat with the local tobacconist. As an advanced expat, you’ll share stories of the under-equipped plumber – recommended by your trusted neighbor – who stranded your family without a working toilet, leaving you in the middle ages for the entire month of August.

It’s all part of the expat experience. When and if you return “home,” you’ll realize that whatever land you come from isn’t much better anyway.

So new expats take heed! Before complaining about what may seem like injustices, ask yourself honestly: did you invest the time up front - typically one or two generations - to build a relationship with the baker, the tobacconist, or the plumber and his extended family?

If not, the indifferent service you receive is no one’s fault but yours. Take time, lots of time, to build relationships. It may take years to become an insider, but once you’re in, you and your offspring will be treated like family.

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