'19.10 euros, alstublieft. Wil jij voetbalplaatjes?' said the cashier. 'No', answered the man ahead of me, without hesitation.
'Sure!' my words were cut halfway by the simultaneous reply from that man and the cashier.
'Oh! Thanks so much! And happy Valentine's Day!' I was so happy that I even forgot to continue explaining why I need the cards.
Anyway, I got what I want and that was the only gift I got on the Valentine's Day. But my story had nothing to do with V-Day since V-Day had nothing to do with me. It was about the latest vogue in Holland: voetbalplaatjes.
Let's go back to two weeks ago, when I was having dinner at the Frits',
Cato: Derek, do you have some voetbalplaatjes?
D: Ja, I did! I got two tickets when I went to AH! Something about the Eredivisie. Does it mean I can use them to watch Eredivisie with my friend?
Gerard: Ar..Ha...Mr. Derek, those cards are called voetalplaatjes (football cards), not voetalkaartjes, it's only for children, for fun. Shame on you.
Everybody exploded into laugh. The only comfort at the moment was that I learned the difference between 'plaatje' and 'kaartje'. Now I really gotcha.
I decided to make a 'field trip' at AH.
It was a sunny afternoon. Four kids outside the entrance, standing in a row behind the barrier, kept asking the same question every time people came in and out, 'do you have the football cards?' At first glance it just looked like a mini-demonstration. For the bad quality of food? I hope so since the food there is below par recently. Anyway, it is a bit mindboggling to me because I never saw any supermarket do promotion in such a way in China.
At first I stood aside, watching them vying for the little cards. They looked happy and enjoyed themselves. Then I came up and talked to them. They are all around 15 years old, every day after school they would be there on time. 'For what?' I asked. 'Just for fun', answered one of them. Wow, again, a typical Dutch answer I always hear, but this time it was from a 14-year-old boy. Impressive!
I'm sure eventually they gain more than fun. It is a special lesson out of class? Forget about the commercial intention of AH, this promotion teaches the children how to fight for a single crumb of bread with so many competitors. They have to overcome the cold weather, their shyness, the disappointment of sometime going home empty-handed. They learn how to negotiate and when to cooperate, when to contend.
Ar ha, no wonder Dutch are so good at trading. By the way, you know how I dealt with the V-Day's gift? I gave them to Cato as her grandchildren keep asking her for the cards.
Ar ha, such a lovely day. ^_^
Video of the week
A stand-up comedy about AH and 'zakje'.