Shiny Happy People
Expats in Vienna can be a brutal bunch. Sometimes it seems that one of our favorite pastimes is complaining, and saying things are so much better somewhere else.
Of course, many Viennese I know would say that’s just proof that we have been successfully integrated into local culture.
One of our favorite things to bitch about is the unspeakable rudeness of many people in customer service. If you have ever been to Cafe Westend, I’m sure you know what I am talking about. Waiters, shopkeepers and sales clerks who manage to give you the impression that they would be having a wonderful life, really, if it weren’t for the pesky intrusions of all these people who kept wanting to, you know, buy things.
There are exceptions of course, and it’s their rarity that makes them precious little jewels of memory.
Not that long ago I did some voice work for an audio-guide that was to be used for an exhibition at one of the Museums in Vienna. After an hour in the studio, I was absolutely sold on the project, and decided to visit it with my son as soon as possible. When I heard there would be a big opening event for it, I decided to try and get on the guest list. I’m a bit of a cheapskate.
When I got the call that everything was cool and I would be on the list for the opening, I ecstatically informed my son that we were going out to a big party where their would be lots of cool things to look at, and maybe even free food and cola. We were both rather excited.
When the big night came, I bundled my boy up into the car and headed out for the hour-long jaunt to the Museum. There were hordes of people streaming through the doors, some of them looking very well to do and influential indeed. We were both a little awed.
And then it happened.
The man at the desk asked my for my invitation. I told him I was on the list, and if he would just look it up, everything would be great.
Standing there, with my son looking up at me and feeling more than a little out of place, I had a moment of panic. I don’t like disappointing my kids.
Rather than getting all authoritarian on me, the man at the desk winked and said he was sure there was some mistake. He waved us in and told my son he hoped he would enjoy the exhibition.
I was stunned. Floored. Flabbergasted.
I wanted to cry. It was really the last thing I was expecting in the situation, especially at an invitation only event with so many important looking people. We were lucky enough to miss all of the hot-air and politicking that kicked off the event, snuck around the crowds by scooting up a side entry, and went on to have an absolutely lovely evening looking at all sorts of really cool things.
Inspired by the heavy metal on display, my son promised to buy me a Buggati when he was a famous rock-star. I bought him a poster of the car and told him I would hold him to his word.
If he ever comes through, I plan on hunting down the desk guy and taking him for a ride.