Living in: Utrecht
Natalie lived in Paris for 7 years before moving to The Netherlands. She says her and her partner were tired of the stress and crowds in Paris. They loved their home city but wanted to live somewhere quieter with more open space.
Natalie says the move went really well, everything fell into place when they got here. She got a great job as an accountant and they found a home in a very green suburb near Utrecht.
One of Natalie’s neighbours is a lovely but very chatty old woman. Natalie says she’s so chatty that sometimes Natalie and her partner have to sneak into their home to avoid getting caught in long conversations with the neighbour.
One morning when she was leaving for work Natalie saw her neighbour standing on the pavement looking very upset. Natalie knew that if she went to talk with the neighbour it was pretty much guaranteed to end in a long conversation and she’d be late for work. And she couldn’t afford to be late at a new job.
But instead of driving off Natalie went to speak to her neighbour. She says she knew she wouldn’t be able to live with herself if she drove off and didn’t make sure her neighbour was ok.
Turns out her neighbour was only upset because a child had just wheeled their bicycle into the canal. The child wasn’t on the bicycle at the time. The child was fine. She was only upset because the child had lost their bicycle. And the conversation did take ages. Natalie was almost 40 minutes late for work.
But the funny side of that kindness – in rushing to get to work Natalie didn’t have time for breakfast. Sitting in a meeting of 9 people at her new job her stomach started growling.
Natalie says she felt it softly at first and thought “no no nooooo”. But it growled louder and louder until she couldn’t hide it anymore. She was so embarrassed she actually started laughing. But then her manager also laughed. And a few other people did also and not in a mocking way. They were all laughing with her.
Finally her manager said, in very formal English “Well, all indications are that this meeting has gone on long enough, let’s close up now.” And Natalie got her team donuts for lunch.