10 October 2013

On Czechs

Smalls demonstrates the stereotypical Czech face
Much has been written about the stereotypical Czech (see, for instance, 'Do Czechs Hate Foreigners, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3') and, in short, the stereotypical Czech is basically the opposite of the stereotypical American. So, naturally, 'So, how do you find the Czechs?' is right up there with 'How is your Czech coming along?' as commonly-asked question.

So, adding my anecdata to the foray: Czechs are lovely. Ok, not all of them. Specifically, the man who told me off for having a crying baby....at a playground. Also, the bus-load of able-bodied people who pointedly ignored me as I struggled to get the buggy off a bus. Those damn steps-plus-big-gap-to-the-curb combination is tricky.

Both stories, though, have happy endings. In the first case, we ran into the Playground Grump and his boss as they continued with their landscaping work and the boss made a big fuss of Smalls, who was obligingly cute by displaying all of his latest tricks, including waving at Playground Grump.

The second ending was even more sweet, though. An old lady loudly clucked about how shocking it was that no one would help this poor, struggling mother, and pointedly glared at a particularly fit man who was meeting his family at the same stop. This, of course, meant that I could remain the angelic, struggling mother AND my id was satisfactorily manifested in the lovely, slightly scary Czech woman. It was a beautiful moment.

This leads very nicely into a social norm that I have found particularly endearing: it is generally expected that strangers will help with getting buggies on and off all forms of public transport. This led to a very well dressed, at least 70 year old gentleman kindly offering to help me and Smalls onto a tram. Considering he was walking with a cane, I politely declined.

All of these incidents, by the way, happened in Prague. The local village Czechs deserve their own post, coming soon...

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