Saturday, 4 August 2012

Lost in translation

In the Netherlands there is an expression for doing something in a slapdash way, “doing something the French way”. That is the title of the simultaneous Dutch blog about the same subject, but using that here seems a bit out of place, hence the alternative title. Why the Dutch associate the French with working sloppy must go back a long time, probably to 1795 when the Dutch revolted against the Oranges and installed a Dutch version of the French Republic and after that were annexed by Napoleon to become the Kingdom Holland under his brother, Louis Napoleon.
Expats here tend to comment a lot on the French way of working, mainly because it is different from the way English or Dutch are doing it. It is debatable whether different is necessarily worse, but that seems to be the general opinion among most expats. That is why I would like to break a lance for “a company we have had excellent experience with”. If they work “the French way”, give me “the French way” anytime!
We had a rather big project on our hands, building a modern filter to treat our waste water in the back garden.
On the designated day a crew arrived, varying in size per day between 2 and 5 men, with diggers, a tractor, trucks, materials and tools. At the end of each day, but also during breaks, they meticulously cleaned their tools (shovels, spades, etc.). When they had to install a membrane white as snow in a filter, they took their dirty boots off before stepping on the filter cloth. Maybe a bit over the top, because after that the filter was covered with gravel, but at least the pores did not get clogged up with clay from dirty boots.
When the whole project neared completion, some small pieces of wood, beautifully cut to suit, were used to cover some joints in the beams. After a few months these bits of wood should be invisible because of the reed plants that are planted in the filter, but it certainly shows how neat and tidy these people work. Before the men left, the whole orchard had been turned into a World war I battlefield by tractor and digger movements.
At the end of the day, before the men left the premises, they levelled everything as good as possible with a digger, rakes and shovels, sowed in grass, and although the next day it was very well visible that works had taken place here, they had certainly done everything they could to bring the orchard back to its original state. And finally they finished a day earlier than planned to our full satisfaction and had turned up whenever they promised to do so.
For those who are interested in gardening work on a big scale, or in installing a modern water treatment system, “this is the link to their website”.

I would not be able to name a Dutch contractor who could have done a better job doing it the Dutch way...

For our own website click here.

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