As I step into the bar I suddenly feel deeply nervous. The place is almost empty. There are no crowds for me to hide within this time. Behind the bar two members of staff are engaged in a casual conversation while an old couple at a nearby table study a map of the city together. In the opposite corner a man sits alone, simply staring into his beer.
I avoid making eye contact with anyone in the hope that they simply won’t notice me. In fact, I deeply hope they will completely ignore me all together, it might make what I am about to do slightly less embarrassing. Slowly, I start to inch towards a table near the window and…
“Hello!” One of the staff members suddenly calls out from behind the bar. Everyone looks up.
I mumble something in reply that vaguely sounds like an hello and quickly close the last few steps between myself and the table (which happens to be the one in front of the old couple).
As I slide into the seat I quickly glance out of the window towards the camera crew who are (once again) hidden out of sight across the street. They give me an enthusiastic thumbs up. I imagine that the look on my face is somewhat less enthusiastic. I guess it is my own fault for seeming so willing to do anything. I sigh and begin.
“Trying to get the attention of a Dutch waiter is imposs….”
“Good evening sir. Can I get you a drink?” The cheery waiter from before suddenly interrupts, appearing next to me as if out of nowhere. He doesn’t seem to have realized what I was about to say but he’s successfully disproved it in one swift move anyway.
I immediately sink lower into my chair, hoping that doing so will somehow allow me to hide from this embarrassment. It doesn’t.
“No thank you.” I reply in a tiny, sheepish voice and then, like a child who has been caught doing something he thinks he probably shouldn’t be doing I point across the street to the camera crew and apologetically add, ”We’re filming something. A sort of interview with BNN.”
“Oh.” He responds.
After the producer has come in and explained everything (along with saying, “Just ignore him no matter what he does.”) we start again. As I enter the bar for a second time the waiter enthusiastically smiles at me but stays firmly behind the bar and does not say a word. He just looks so happy to be having something filmed for television in his bar. This makes me feel a lot less nervous. At least everyone knows why I’m going to sit down and start talking to myself this time. I take my seat by the window and begin.
“Trying to get the attention of a Dutch waiter is impossible.”
There is a sudden sharp intake of breath from the bar behind me and I instantly realize that I can never come to this place again. Apparently the waiter had not heard me the first time and the producer had failed to explained that I was basically going to be insulting him.
“The moment you attempt to do so most bar staff will quickly find something else much more interesting to do, like repeatedly cleaning the same glass over and over again in a way that suggests a severe case of obsessive compulsive disorder.”
The old couple behind me start to giggle.
“It becomes a battle of wills that you can very rarely win. In fact you are better off simply serving yourself because they probably won’t notice that either.”
After I finished alienating myself from every bar in Amsterdam for life it was time to get a last few shots of myself unsuccessfully attempting to order a drink at the bar. Unsurprisingly the waiter found it a lot easier to ignore me this time (method acting).
A short while later we finished up the interview, got a last few shots and a few days later I saw the video for myself.
what to see the results? Check out the full Invading Holland interview with BNN.