Americans no worse than Germans or French
I suspect some deviations from reality in the article on Americans written by Lucia Nicholsonová [Culture Shock: Americans all cut from same cloth?, Vol. 6 No. 22, June 5-11].
I have seen (heard) Germans next to Americans, and found Germans to be in a higher league when it comes to shouting, with the French somewhere in between. Are you sure those Americans were not related? Where is the shock anyway?
I could find more errors, but why should I? I was amused and that was the purpose of your article. Just promise me one thing - don't take my objections seriously either. Good luck to you and your countrymen.
Tiny Portuguese community gets 10th member
I read with interest your article on Portuguese expats in Slovakia ["Portuguese expats in Slovakia longing for compatriots," by Martina Pisárová, Vol. 6 No. 23, June 12-18]. I am also a Portuguese currently in Slovakia as an expert for an EU project.
I would appreciate very much if you could pass my contacts to some of my countrymen here in Slovakia, so that if they are interested they could contact me.
Tel: 5824 3245
Restaurant service remains poor in Slovakia
Every time I am in my native Bratislava, I take my nephew and his family to a Chinese restaurant. A few weeks ago we decided to go to the Mekong Thai restaurant on Palackého Street. It is a nice restaurant, only we were surprised that on Friday evening there was only one couple besides the six of us present. The menu is long and the waiting staff was not of much help with the selection. Relying mostly on our somewhat limited previous Thai experience, we placed our orders.
When they arrived, they looked good with the exception of the roasted chicken, which consisted of the lower part of a chicken thigh plus two other miniature pieces and some vegetable garnish (for 179 Slovak crowns!). We protested and sent it back and ordered instead roast duck (for some 80 Sk more), which was excellent. When time came to pay, lo and behold the chicken was on the bill! We protested in vain that a patron should pay only for what he consumed and not for what he sent back, but the two waiters were adamant. When we asked to speak to the management, we were told that everybody else had already left. So we gave the waiters a choice: either they take the chicken off the bill, or we would write an unpleasant article to the papers.
Following this suddenly an Asian-looking lady appeared and proceeded to lecture us in pretty good Slovak how repulsive it was to threaten with a newspaper article, etc.,etc. Knowing that "everybody was already gone" we wondered who she was, but she refused to tell us, because, she said, "I am not asking you who you are." When reminded that people like us are usually in a restaurant recognized as "patrons" or "guests" she finally revealed that she was the owner. However, in the matter of the chicken she was not more forgiving than her waiters. Seeing that further discussion was leading nowhere, we paid the bill and left, leaving no tips.
It is a pity that many people in the service industry in Slovakia still don't realise that pleasing the customer is one of the most important factors in the success of an enterprise. This lady got her 179 crowns for the chicken, but lost at least twice the amount in tips and the goodwill of six customers who can spread the word.
A final solution to the Slovak fly epidemic
Your readers may be interested in knowing that plans are in place to make an application to the Canadian Investment Development Association (C.I.D.A.) to fund a project headed by Dr. Ján Rybar, Associate Professor, Head of Department, Comenius University Bratislava, to resolve the unusual perception of Slovak flies by Canadian tourists.
Since Mark Stolarik, Chair of Slovak Studies at the University of Ottawa, is partially funded by Canadian tax dollars, and ultimately Canadian tax payers, i.e. me, I deem it reasonable that my side of the argument gain equal funding.
In his most recent letter, Mr. Stolarik proposed to scour the country of Slovakia with a rolled-up issue of The Slovak Spectator in order to smite as many flies as possible. He then will categorise them by size, sex and colour, and package them in match boxes for The Spectator from where they will be trans-shipped to Qualicum Beach on Vancouver Island B.C. for my personal inspection.
Arising from this Don Quixote endeavour we have a letter from Phillip Sanchez, who posits that my inability to see flies in Slovakia is due to my being a cock-eyed optimist who can only see good in the things he loves.
I tested this thesis recently in Piešťany, where, for three weeks, I never saw one fly, but the next week in Marianske Laszne, I saw 10 flies and in fact smote two of them myself!
This anecdotal experiment can not be regarded as definitive, so we will have Dr. Rybar continue this project formally and with due diligence.
We will expect Dr. Rybar to also examine areas regarding my inability to see flies as opposed to Mr. Stolarik's being swarmed by them. Possible areas of investigation to be discussed.
Qualicum Beach, B.C.
3. Jul 2000 at 0:00