If you have never been in the Netherlands on the first Monday of any given month, you have managed to miss out on a real treat. I can remember my first Monday of the month like it was yesterday. I had been in the Netherlands for about a week and a half, it was a lovely summer day, birds in the sky, sun shining, and me enjoying my new city by sleeping in late and enjoying a cup of coffee. Ahhh…what a day.
And then, there it was. The noise that shook my walls and rattled my brain because I am lucky enough to live between three loudspeakers. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, have a quick listen here:
Terrible isn’t it? Well, poor newly-arrived me had no idea what on earth was going on. Should I jump under the table? Should I run around screaming? Was the apocalypse upon me? I ran outside to verify the level of chaos, and what did I see? People just going about their business as though nothing was happening. Children playing in the park. Flocks of disrupted but otherwise unharmed birds circling overhead. No chaos. No destruction. But for the ear-splitting sound, barely any disturbance at all. Now, I had heard that Amsterdam was a relaxed city, but this seemed like a bit TOO relaxed to me. Would you be relaxed with this in the background?
After a quick phone call I discover that, indeed, this is completely normal, if and ONLY if it is precisely 12 noon on the first Monday of the month. But that begs the question, doesn’t it? What happens if there actually is an emergency at precisely 12 noon on the first Monday of the month? What happens then?!