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What annoys me when driving in Belgium

Is there a roundabout? Most of the Belgian drivers that I noticed in roundabouts do not indicate when they leave the roundabout. And to annoy me even more, recently a Belgian policeman told me that in Belgium it is not compulsory to indicate left when you drive around the roundabout and you intend to take the second or following exit. Priority of right. This driving rule is applied in an ad-hoc matter. Sometimes it is respected and sometimes not. You never know when the driver coming from your right will apply or not the rule. Sometimes there have “give way’ marking on the lane coming from your right, but the driver just decides to apply the priority of right even if it is not applicable. Or if the driver has indeed priority of right, just goes through the croasroad with high speed, not taking into account that he/she as well has to respect the priority of right and give way. Drivers that decide that a roundabout is a croasroad. Many times I saw drivers going round a roundabout and then deciding to stop and give priority to cars entering the roundabout. So priority of right was applied when it is not supposed to. Changing lanes on the motorway? Why should they indicate it? Many times I saw cars driving in front of me and not bothering to indicate when changing lanes. And if they do indicate, it only after they […]

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Cum mi-a schimbat viata un catelus?

De pe 12 aprilie, aproximativ la o luna dupa ce ne-am casatorit legal, am decis sa ne marim familia. Asa a aparut in viata noastra catelusul westie – Ozzie. Initial se numea Osborne, iar cand l-am vazut la crescatoria de catelusi Milando Breeding, era o mingiuta alba care mai mult se tara decat mergea. Piciorusele din fata ii erau pline de energie, insa cele din spate nu prea erau obisnuite cu mersul. Cateva zile inainte sa mergem la crescatorie sa il vedem pe Osborne (azi Ozzie), primisem un newsletter cu noii catelusi disponibili. Mi-a placut mult mutrisoara lui Ozzie, care parea mai degraba un ursulet decat un catelus. Fata nu ii era deloc serioasa de Osborne, asa ca l-am numit Ozzie, nume care i se potriveste perfect cu personalitatea lui exuberanta. Initial am ezitat sa il luam, am ezitat sa ne asumam responsabilitatea. Nu numai ca era totusi o cheltuiala de achizitie cam piperata plus toate ‘accesoriile: cos, jucarii, lesa, vaccinuri, mancare, suplimente pentru digestie, etc’, dar mai insemna sa ne reorganizam viata un pic, ca sa il putem acomoda cum se cuvine. Asa ca am preferat sa mergem acasa sa ne gandim. Pe drum insa, ne-am oprit la benzinarie si in timp ce ne mancam sandwichul am stat de vorba. Atunci am luat marea decizie – ne intoarcem si luam catelusul. Mi-a fost teama, caci ma credeam incapabila sa am grija de un catelus, care comparativ cu papagalii necesita […]

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Michalopoulos’ surrealistic customer care: The outraging story of a wedding ring found on the beautiful island of Zakynthos

Little did I know that morning that the trip to Zante town would conclude with my wedding ring. It was our second year we were back to Zakynthos island (Greece). We were so happy to be there, continuing our holiday from where we left it a year earlier. I don’t know why I started to look at the jewelry shops and wedding rings. Back in Belgium, there are so many trustworthy jewelers, especially in Antwerp, the city of diamonds. But for some reason, I did. And I kept looking and trying on various rings until I found the one: a beautiful Eternity 18 karat ring with 14 diamonds. It was elegant, not too thick and not too slim. And it had the same princess type of diamonds as my engagement ring. More than that, I quickly associated the 14 diamonds to the year we would get married: 2014. I asked for the price. Well, it was very pricy. We had no experience of prices for diamond wedding rings. We knew they were expensive, but not to what extent. Plus, I had some doubts, as we were … well … in Greece. Food is great, people are charming, beaches are sandy and the sun is excellent, but Greece is not particularly known as a place for things that are well made or built to last. Plus, I had heard of various stories with Greek sellers, promising even the moon from the […]

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Adminisitratia belgiana – Ce placere!

Cu ce placere ma duc de fiecare data la commune, adica la primarie! Doar ca sa reinnoiesc cartea ‘de riverain’ am mers deja de doua ori. M-am prezentat zambitoare la primarie, optimista, neimaginandu-mi ca ceva ar putea sa fie anapoda. Aveam la mine actele care imi fusesera comunicate prin telefon. Ce mai, totul va merge ca pe roate! Am intrebat de biroul cu pricina. Am nimerit la altul, nu-i problema, doamna de la ghiseu mi-a dat indicatiile biroului destinatie. L-am gasit, aa, era in spatele meu. Nu-i problema. Mi-am luat biletul de ordine, cel putin exista acest sistem de bilete care sa mearcheze randul la coada, caci in Romania nu am vazu inca asa ceva. Mi-am asteptat cuminte randul, cel putin pe scaun, si nu la o coada unde se imbulzeau unii si altii. Apoi dupa vreo 40 minute de asteptare, mi-a venit si mie in sfarsit randul. Zambitoare, m-am prezentat cu actele necesare (cel putin dupa cum imi fusese comunicat). Apoi, zambitor, cel de a ghiseu mi-a mai cerut inca un document. M-am intors acasa sa il iau. Am stat iar la coada, iar mi-a venit randul. Aaa, aveti masina cu leasing, pai mai trebuie un act. Asa ca urmeaza sa merg curand si a treia oara. Pana una alta sper ca documentul suplimentar pe care il astept de la angajatorul meu sa vina la timp, ca sa nu imi expire cartea de riveran. Altfel e foarte posibil sa […]

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Consultant sau contractor = resursa de aruncat la cerere sau la nevoie

Unele companii lucreaza cu multi consultanti sau contractori pe care ii angajeaza pe perioade determinate ca sa lucreze pe diverse proiecte (in general IT) unde au nevoie de resurse cu profile de lucru specializate. E si cazul uneia dintre companiile pentru care am lucrat. Am remarcat multe discrepante intre consultanti si angajati, consultantii primind uneori un tratament extrem de dur. Consultantul este aruncat imediat la apa in mijlocul proiectelor, fara nici un handover, aproape fara nicio explicatie. Swim baby, otherwise you’ll drown! Asteptarea din partea clientului este enorma iar rezultatele sunt asteptate rapid. Angajatul insa, are perioada de acomodare, are handover, are suport, poate invata.. etc. Daca unui angajat ii ia pana la 6 luni sa intealeaga cum merg rotile corporative si apoi sa dea rezultate, consultantul trebuie sa accelereze monstru partea de invatare si sa livreze deja daca se poate din prima saptamana de cand a fost angajat. Consultantul cu greu isi poate planifica viata personala, mai ales cei care trebuie sa isi mute resedinta pentru a lucra pentru firma – client care ii cumpara serviciile. Contractul initial pe 6 luni, poate fi prelungit din luna in luna sau o data la 2 luni. Iar planificarea personala e greu de facut cand nu stii de la o luna la alta, daca te intorci la Londra sau ramai la Bruxelles. E si cazul unei cunostinte de-a mea care nu stia daca sa isi anunte proprietarul ca pleaca din apartamentul in […]

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Baby present contribution dilemma for twins … 5 or 10 euro?

One of my colleagues became a father for the first time. His wife blessed him with twins. As usual, my colleagues want to congratulate the father and make a nice gesture by buying and signing a card and raising some money for a small gift for the newborn(s). Since there are two babies instead of one, the question is – How much money should they contribute towards? With 5 euro – the usual agreed contribution within the team or with 10 euro, as there are twins? What a dilemma! I don’t know if I should laugh or not. … Even in Romania, where average revenues are usually a lot smaller than in Belgium, people would contribute with more than 5 euros for the gift for a new born. Cultural differences, I suppose.

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Nu vin, nu dau la cadou! Contributia colegilor belgieni la cadoul de nunta.

Nunta la belgieni este pentru mine o controversa. Cu atat mai mult, cadoul pentru colegii care se casatoresc. Diferentele culturale sunt clare si ma tot frapeaza, desi dupa atatia ani, ar fi trebuit sa ma fi obisnuit. O colega de-a mea se casatoreste, si precum se practica in echipa i-am anuntat pe ceilalti colegi ca strangem bani pentru cadoul ei de nunta. Cum Belgia e excesiv de scumpa (comparativ cu Romania de exemplu), nunta se tine peste hotare, in tara miresei. In Belgia, tara mirelui, se tine doar un cocktail ca sa se sarbatoreasca evenimentul. Dupa cum spuneam, am pus mana de la mana cu cei de la munca sa ii facem un cadou (banesc) fetei. Am luat si o felicitare, unde lumea doar s-a semnat, caci pentru colegii mei belgieni e prea complicat sa scrie o urare sau sa se gandeasca la niste cuvinte frumoase. Revenind la colecta pentru cadou. Eu am pus 25 de euro, caci mi se pare o suma rezonabila pentru invitatia la cocktail. Ceilalti colegi? Ce sa zic decat altceva decat diferente culturale. Eu eram cea care strangea banii si nu de cateva ori am ramas uimita de controversatele raspunsuri primite si de sumele ridicole de participare la cadou. Mai jos cateva raspunsuri si ‘contributii la cadou’: “Pai eu nu vin, asa ca dau mai putin” (Suma data: 5 euro)  “Pai eu s-ar putea sa vin dar s-ar putea si sa nu vin, asa ca nu […]

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Wake up, woman! Grow up!

The more I was listening to her complaining about her miserable life, the angrier I was getting as I could see how much she was digging herself into sorrow and covering herself with shit. I wanted to slap her, to shake her really hard and yell at her – “Wake up, woman! Stop whinning! “Your life is not that bad as you say so. You’ve achieved wonderful things! Stop making your life seem that hard, that horrible! You were used to living on satin cushons, have others solving your issues, not taking risks and not being responsible for your life! Grow up! So what you’re thirty and single? So what you’re getting divorced? So what you are not fulfilled by your job? So what you don’t have a car? It is not up to me to find solutions. Although I did it so many times! I am just sick and tired of giving you advice, finding alternatives and hearing you complaining all the time, despite of all my efforts! I am sick of trying to find solutions for you and every time have them thrown away for some stupid reasons  that you invent just to sabotage yourself and demonstrate how hard life is with you. It’s taking too much of my energy!I am sick of hearing you saying all the time – “Yes, but…”, “If I had this/ if I had”… Although you don’t know it, YOU have enough ressources […]

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The Driving Challenge

“Oh boy, it was a huge space-ship looking like VW Passat which was parked facing the wall. So obviously to drive it out, I had to reverse. On the gear shift, for reversing it was shown the same direction as for the first gear. I lifted the gear shift (as I did so many times with all the cars that I had driven before) and moved the gear shift towards left and then forward, believing that the car will get into reverse mode. Well, it didn’t. It kept getting closer and closer to the wall.”   I got my driving license while I was still in the early years of undergraduate. Back then I had the time to study for this and it was fairly cheap to do the driving school in Romania (especially if you compare the Belgian fees for driving schools and test ). Then after I succeeded my driving license test,  I just kept my driving license in the pocket and displayed it as a “good to know” item on the CV. I  had no car of my own and dad was never around to drive his car, hence I did not practised my new skills. I continued to be a pedestrian for another 7 years, both in Romania and Belgium. When I moved to Brussels, there was really no other mean of transport available than the public transportation. Then I got a job wich came with […]

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Obiectez si ma revolt!

1 – Aschia nu sare departe de trunchi O vorba din popor spune ca “aschia nu sare departe de trunchi”. Eu adaug ca trunchiul ar trebui sa fie mandru de aschia sa si ar trebui sa o incurajeze sa ajunga mai departe. E dureros totusi cand trunchiul e in competitie cu aschia si ar face orice numai ca aschia sa nu reuseasca sa se desprinda de pe trunchi si nici sa sara. 2 – Paradox de management à la Focsani Paradox de management: pe de o parte managerul reproseaza subalternilor ca nu au rezultate si ca businessul merge prost, ca nu muncesc si ca nu se implica destul; pe de alta parte acelasi manager respinge subalternilor toate propunerile, toate proiectele si toate initiativele, fara a da vreun argument decent. Ce solutie au subalternii? Ce pot ei dezvolta? E ca si cum ai taia picioarele cuiva si apoi i-ai reprosa ca nu are rezultate la curse.

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Isn’t it ironic, don’t you think?

1) At the gym, a rather corpulent guy (so I don’t say fat) was doing some cardio on the cross-trainer. While he was exercising, he was watching a program on food. It was one of those shows where some guys cook all kind of tasty-looking like dishes that make you crave them and that you can almost taste them. It was just hilarious, as if “I want to lose weight, but I am keeping an eye on the food to see what I am missing”! 2) A woman who was supposed to be careful with money, as her budget was rather restrained, ended up spending about 150 euros only on two pairs of shoes. On the other hand she refused going on a 1hour boat trip on one of the most beautiful, breath-taking rivers, because paying 10 euros seemed too expensive. 3) While in a 3day trip in the sunny Portugal, a woman rests on the beach admiring the beautiful navy blue of the ocean, the come and go of the waves and the little colourful cobles in the sand. She realises that instead of enjoying more of this peace and quietness given by the ocean, she had spent about 6 hours on one of the bussiest streets while doing shopping. She concludes that spending so much time on such futile activities was rather stupid. On the next day however, she spends her morning in the shops looking for bags […]

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>A woman does NOT need balls in order to fight back

They were really intrigued today when during an informative meeting (we were celebrating a colleague’s birthday) I said “When I was a little girl I wished I were a boy”. I don’t remember the context of that conversation exactly. We must have been speaking about our childhood and how it was back then. My colleagues, mostly men, started laughing, probably thinking of all kind of sexual jokes. It was indeed a funny and intriguing statement. How come? “Well yes”, I said, “back then it was cool to be a boy than a girl, especially that I all my neighbors were boys”. And I also realize that for long time I thought it was not only cool but also a lot better to be a boy. – Boys had freedom to shout as long as they wanted while girls were reduced to silence, because it was not pretty for a girl to be shouting. – Boys were allowed to say what there was on their mind and speak up, while girls were supposed to shut up and bear – Boys could have run as much as they wanted, getting dirty while running and falling, while girls were supposed to be good, stay pretty and be clean – Boys could have played with swords, be adventurous, climb on trees, while girls were supposed to stay still, keep the clothes clean and play with their dolls When I grew older, boys were still […]

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