Shandrick Elodia, the ‘most amusing bus driver of the Netherlands’ from Enschede was sacked recently for safety reasons. By sacked, I mean not rostered anymore to work, as he didn’t have a permanent contract.
“Are you ready for the ride of your life?”, he would ask depressed passengers and then chat on the microphone and play music like Nirvana’s ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ and Tom Jones’ ‘It’s Not Unusual’. Everybody loved this guy, but he was way too much for his employer.
At some point, Elodia needed something more challenging and wanted to do something about all those sad faces boarding his bus. He once startled an old lady by wishing her a nice evening on the microphone and kept going from there.
Sure, Elodia should have followed the rules (only greeting people) and just done his job or quit and find something else — he is the first to admit that. Elodia has a degree in industrial design, and according to him, his global vision of ‘making poverty cool’ ended up spilling over into his work as a bus driver. “When you’re poor, you have to make due with rubbish products. When I drive up in my happy bus next to some guy in an expensive Mercedes, he sees how much fun the ‘poorer’ people are having and wishes he was in my bus.”
Since Elodia has been on television (in Dutch), work offers have been pouring in.
(Links: www.nrc.nl, www.nieuws.nl, Photo of Bus in Enschede by Daniël Bleumink, some rights reserved)
Tags: bus driver, Enschede, industrial design, public transport
This morning Privacy First, a foundation committed to preserving and promoting the right to privacy, is in court in Amsterdam over having to enter one’s license plate number when parking on the city’s streets.
Bas Filippini, who when parking in Amsterdam enters the license plate number ‘NOWAY’ (see film linked to the source), says the problem is two-fold: 1) a person in Amsterdam now has no choice but to enter their license plate number and 2) people cannot pay with cash, which both breach the right to privacy and anonymity, never mind being a pain for tourists or other visitors who don’t have the right bank card or mobile phone.
Filippini is in court because of a 60 euro fine he got for not entering his license plate number. According to Privacy First, every free citizen has the right to privacy in the sense of anonymity in public spaces, including parking one’s car, a right stated by Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (PDF).
We’ve been parking cars on the streets in Amsterdam for decades without the city knowing anything about our cars, and continue to gleefully do so across the country. Article 8 says unless matters such as, “national security, public safety or the economic wellbeing of the country, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others” come into play, which I cannot possible imagine they do.
We’ll update you once we know more.
Tags: Amsterdam, parking, privacy
A man got fined 147 euro for putting the sticker of a Dutch flag over the EU logo on his license plate.
Legally you can’t hide any part of the license plate, not even something deemed non-essential by some. Apparently, in the UK someone put a UK sticker over the EU part, argued in court, and won. According to Wikipedia, the EU symbol is not compulsory in the UK.
Chances are, someone from the UK won’t leave the UK by car as often as the average Dutch car leaves its borders, and so not having the right sticker seems less important in the UK than in the Netherlands.
(Link: , Photo by Quistnix, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 1.0)
Tags: Dutch flag, license plate
A study by an insurance company from Emmen in Drenthe states that nine in ten drivers gets ticketed occasionally for violating the rules of the road.
Audi drivers take the cake though. One in five of them gets fined more than ten times a year. Driving over the speed limit is a particularly favourite pastime for Audi drivers as each and every one of them gets caught speeding at least once a year. Especially heinous is their track record for red light jumping, something which almost half of the Audionistas has ever done.
Autoblog.nl’s Casper Heij has his doubts about the study. He questions the sample size together with the methodology (1,081 drivers against over 18 different brands of cars). He also wonders out loud about curious results such as Mercedes drivers being paragons of virtue (“I take it they failed to poll cab drivers”) and Peugeot drivers never getting fined for broken lights (“I own both a Peugeot and, not by coincidence, shares in an automotive lights factory”).
(Study: Netpolis; photo of an Audi R8 and a London traffic warden by Lars Plougmann, some rights reserved)
Tags: Audi, driving, Emmen, insurance, Mercedes, Peugeot, traffic offences
The Dutch don’t do local TV commercials, as most of them are either made nationally or dubbed from countries like France (you’ll notice everybody is white, shorter and has dark hair). There’s no tacky second-hand car salesman ads, with the exception of a bed and mattress chain that went rogue a few decades back.
Dutch car rental company Diks, a generic surname like Smith in Dutch, has gone rogue too and made their own commercial. It’s a short movie full of corny Dutch puns (great for learning Dutch catch phrases), the Diks family men showing off their resemblance and the ironic use of tits & ass, which works because it’s all in English. Much like swearing in a foreign language, T&A is also more socially acceptable and funnier in English, pointing a finger at pop culture. I praise the makers’ use of ethnic minorities and the disabled in positive roles, giving it a big city feel.
You can get away with T-shirts saying ‘Chicks like Diks’, as it is the name of the company, then there’s ignoring that line drawn in the Anglo-Saxon sand and going with ‘Our chicks clean your Diks’ (a bit Dunglishy, yes), as women on heels (!) wash some cars. I can get past that because it’s click bait, or maybe even chick bait.
Love the superman, the American football team, the normal-looking girls dancing around, and the ending. I foresee a run on those blue T-shirts as well.
(Link: www.froot.nl, Image: screenshot of video)
Tags: advertising, commercial, Dunglish
As of today selected Amsterdam clients using taxi app uberPOP can organise taxi-like rides with private persons and pay for them using their smartphone. The company also offers two other services that feature properly licensed drivers and vehicles, but it is uberPOP that remains a thorn in the side of cabbies, as it offer rides up to 50% cheaper than normal cabs.
Besides having much more overhead (insurance, permits to drive over tram rails and bus lanes, etc.), cab drivers in Amsterdam have to write down every trip they take, which I find ridiculous and dangerous as many do it while driving, something an uber driver probably doesn’t have to do.
In London, where the app has been available for some time 12,000 taxi drivers protested last month, although many Londoners are gladly using the app. Earlier this year in Paris riots broke out, with people being hit and cars being smashed. The city of Brussels demanded uber make changes to its app in order to keep it legal, including making drivers obtain certificates of good behaviour.
The main objection to the app is that it takes work away from real taxi drivers, but then the app is legal and the drivers and cars currently meet local rules and regulations. Anyone is free to take a properly licensed taxi if they want, but with the mess that is Amsterdam’s taxi services, switching to uber will probably be a major relief for a lot of people.
In Amsterdam drivers continue to refuse small trips, preferring tourists going from Amsterdam Central Station to Schiphol Airport. They also often refuse animals, sometimes speak poor Dutch and/or poor English, and have one of the highest fares in the world. I personally get good taxi service when I need it because I don’t take taxis from Amsterdam Central Station, which is physically regulated at night by security staff like some Banana republic. Even tourist website ‘I Amsterdam’ says “Amsterdam recently launched a campaign to improve taxi services”, while happily listing uber under ‘special taxi services’. Fancy that.
(Link: www.elsevier.nl, Photo of taxi sign by Ben Fredericson, some rights reserved)
Tags: Amsterdam, app, taxi, uber
Last month, lost in a footnote, I hinted at a common practice in a rich neighbourhood of Amsterdam of not paying parking tickets.
Instead, the rich used to fight their tickets in court. They assumed that because the district had to pay its lawyers with public money, the district would prefer to turn a blind eye to parking violations.
Volkskrant wrote back in 2001: “In the entire neighbourhood committees were started to collect the legal expertise needed to fight parking fines in court. Once people had won a couple of their cases, posters started appearing at the dry cleaners: ‘Got ticketed? Fight the fine!'”
The article, a vignette of the Amsterdam neighbourhood Museumkwartier, quotes a police officer who gets worked up over the lack of respect shown to his office, but his colleague, one Jan Okx, sees the positive side of the situation: “The people get to know each other, which improves the cohesion of the neighbourhood.” Volkskrant describes his attitude without a hint of irony as “thinking in processes”.
I wonder if an article like that could still be published today. The one percent have destroyed the economy and the phrase ‘the rich are getting richer’ is no longer just a leftist cry but a scientific fact.
Tags: capital, lawyers, parking, parking fines, wealth
Amsterdam’s taxi landscape is currently featuring mock team cars with bikes on them (pic) to promote Radio 1’s coverage of the Tour, which features French music, lots of manly conversation and the occasional defamatory comment. When stepping into one of these taxis, you can listen to Radio Tour de France and almost feel what it’s like to be in the Tour de France, well kinda, if you add some suspension of disbelief.
I think it’s a nifty idea, as I like the look of the cars, but then I would probably take a taxi when the Tour wasn’t on at night and part of my brain now wonders how long the bikes will stay there and what kind of bikes they are. The Tour will be starting in Utrecht next year by the way.
As you probably already know, Radio 1 won’t have any Tour de France coverage on at all today to leave space for the world news about the Dutch airplane shot down in Ukraine, taking the lives of 298 people, of which 189 where Dutch.
Tags: avertising, French, Tour de France
Maybe French tourists are onto something: why pay a lot of money for an overpriced, cramped Amsterdam hotel room when you can sleep in your car and get a parking fine you won’t have to pay in the end? Apparently, the fines the French are being issued are not being collected anyways, so pourquoi pas.
According to De Telegraaf some 20,000 parking fines were issued to French car owners over the last two years, but few fines were actually collected by Dutch authorities. Even blogs are telling the French to ignore those pesky fines, although the tax office claims they’ll have to pay eventually. I know many French friends who have come to Amsterdam, been fined for parking in the wrong place not being able to decipher what they had to do and never paid their fines.
According to local telly station AT5 French tourists are said to sleep in their cars, which upsets the locals. Maybe the tax office should collect those fines for real because when it comes to bureaucracy the French know how to snub the system more than you, you clueless Dutch tax office you.
Tags: fines, French, hotels, tax office
Here is a short list of car nicknames the Dutch and Flemish use.
- Kever (beetle): Volkswagen (1938)
- Kattenrug (cat’s back): Volvo PV444/PV544 (1944)
- Eend and Lelijke Eend (duck and ugly duckling, the Netherlands): Citroën 2CV (1948)
- Geit (goat, Belgium): Citroën 2CV
- Snoek (pike) and Strijkijzer (clothes iron): Citroën DS (1955)
- Rugzakje (backpack, the Netherlands): Fiat 500 (1957)
- Bolleke (ball, Belgium): Fiat 500
Note that the car later officially branded as Volkswagen Beetle used to start out as simply Volkswagen.
I’ve ordered the nicknames by the year the car was introduced. As you can see, there appears to have been a sort of golden age of nicknames in the two decades following the Second World War.
I’ve tried Googling for more nicknames with the inevitable result of ending up on car blogs where the bloggers asked their readers if they knew more than the usual suspects. The readers would then comment that “the X is also called Y” while curiously omitting the phrase “in my family”. German and English lists can be found on the web.
(Photo by Klugschnacker, some rights reserved)
Tags: geuzennamen, names, Volkswagen Beetle