Time for an update on living in Prague.
Beer. This bears repeating from my first post on this topic.
Conservation. This seems to be a stereotype across Europe; everything is consumed in moderation. Electricity is conserved as motion sensors are everywhere in residences and commercial buildings alike. Restaurant portions are consistently smaller than in the U.S. Soft drink cans are smaller. Cars are smaller; diesel engines are prevalent. I could go on. On the food front, it would seem that everything that’s bad for you (fat, salt, sugar, white carbs etc.) is in the Czech diet too. But everything in moderation means a lot fewer obese persons to the casual observer.
Restraint. Perhaps to a fault, Czechs are restrained. Loud conversations are unusual in any setting except perhaps a pub. Where everybody gets a bit “jolly”, so no big deal. Confrontations are muted. An example: I had a Czech colleague express some serious concerns in a business meeting. Afterwards, in private, he expressed his worry that he came across as too forceful. I’m thinking, “Dude, you barely raised your voice”. On the whole, this makes for a more pleasant way to navigate life.
Public transportation. I covered this one before, too. But I’m more in love than ever.
Subways, street trams and buses enmesh the city. At 90 cents a ride or less. With trains every few minutes. This is a non-car-owner’s dream city. I have no idea how the government affords it when I think back to the “we’re always broke/we need to raise fares” mantra heard from Boston’s transportation authority on a constant basis. At $2 a ride.
Conservation. Despite all of the benefits of being conservation-minded, it can get carried too far. At any local supermarket, you are given a small ration of plastic bags. God help you if you ask the clerk for one more. An icy stare will ensue, and the bags will be whipped in your direction out of disgust. These bags neither cost a lot nor are scarce.
Dog poop on the sidewalks. Is it because those plastic bags are so scarce?
Bureaucracy. I wrote about it here already. And there are other examples. I was required to produce seven (!) signatures in order to receive a credit card. At Ikea, you deal with one clerk to arrange for delivery of your furniture. And you wait for another clerk standing next to the first in order to arrange for assembly of what will be delivered. Any chance this process could be combined?
I believe the Czech workforce is productive on the whole, but something is holding the business world back from inspecting productivity and taking the kind of (ruthless?) action seen in the U.S. I will be puzzling on the root cause of this hesitation for a while to come. Heck, by the time I understand why, I probably will have accepted it.