Belgen mensen zijn stipt – Belgian people are punctual.
Simply two minutes late for an appointment can land you all the way at the beginning of a sequence of appointments. It’s the equivalent of drawing the “back to the beginning” card in a board game. Starting at the beginning most likely involves making an appointment to make an appointment to begin the red tape process all over again.
When in Belgium, don’t be late.
Don’t do it.
Don’t be early either. Where I come from, being 15 minutes early shows enthusiasm. Here it illustrates silliness or stupidity. You could have spent that time having coffee and something with vla in and not sitting waiting and doing nothing. Of course you could say it’d take too long because Belgians zijn Bourgondiërs but in this instance you’d make use of one of the many serve-yourself take-away coffee places and sit and waste your time there rather.
I marveled at my parents and Méme & Pépe telling me that people must make appointments to visit even if they’re family. As a young man I’d always simply arrive when I felt it was suitable at friends or family. Again, I can see why it’s a Belgian thing to make an appointment to visit. It’s not that my parents or Méme & Pépe were being difficult. Its something they were used to. Something that’s still done here in Belgium because if I were to travel 20 minutes on a train at 7euro and then 35 minutes on a bus only to find the family I was paying a surprise visit to was out – destination unknown, unavailable via cellular phone and no determined date or time of return – I’d be rather “sad” I think is the polite term.
Yes, my parents, Méme & Pépe and all my Belgian family require proper preparation for guests. They found it silly and a little rude if you simply arrived at their doorstep. They obviously also found it rude if you were late or early (not stipt!). Thankfully Méme & Pépe never met my lovely lady’s aunt who makes it her absolute duty to arrive an hour before required and always does so loudly! She would never have copped another invitation, simple as that. It would have been funny to watch though.
Simple. Don’t be late…and I hate being late. I’m the weird stalker-type when I have to be at a certain place at a certain time. I always arrive half-an-hour to 15 minutes early, hover and stare from outside to make sure I have absolutely the correct place and then make sure I get in 10 minutes before the required time. Rather fruit cake without the fruit and all the nuts I know, but it’s the only way I’m at ease with arranged meetings.
So, when in Belgium or dealing with Belgians, the first order of business is BE ON TIME!