I think I can safely say that I was brought up “neatly”. I am polite to strangers and when I first go to visit somewhere. However, the Slovenes are generally very polite towards “strangers”, sometimes a bit too much in my opinion. “Exaggeration is a profession as well” I sometimes say 😉 (a Dutch expression). I have several examples of this over the years.
Last week it happened again. We had asked people, that we just met and who had not been with us before, to come over for a cup of coffee. We had been chatting with this couple outside a few times already and because the other day it was quite cold, I asked them to come in. The first thing you notice is that you see them looking at each other a bit shocked and doubtful and the first reaction is “No, no, you are busy so don’t bother”. Then I had to assure them about 5 times that it is no trouble at all and that we have plenty of time and also need a break ourselves. They then came along reluctantly. Bine first showed them the cellar and, as befits Slovenian tradition here, he handed them a can of beer right there, outside. So the three of them were outside, chatting and drinking beer.
In the meantime, I had cut some sausage, cheese, and bread inside to put on the table. I walked out to ask them in and again, all kinds of things were suggested not to have to go in. They had dirty shoes that they didn’t want to take off, etc. I told them about 20 times that they don’t have to take their shoes off (because we have a vacuum cleaner, broom, and mop) but then when they finally came in after I insisted a few more times, of course, they took off their shoes anyway!
Well, so then they were inside. But then they just kept standing there instead of sitting down as I had offered them to do. Again, I had to tell them several times to go and sit down at the table before they finally did. They both wanted a cup of coffee and that was quickly made. I put the food on the table and immediately got a »comment« again that none of that was necessary. Now Bine and I were already hungry for something to eat, so we were waiting for our guests to take something. But that did not happen. In the end, I decided to be the first to take something myself and again told them to take something too. It took at least another 10 minutes and three or so »cheering on’s« before they finally took a piece of bread.
This behavior is certainly not strange to me here and I find it very tiring and quite frankly, also quite annoying. I also wonder where it comes from. Because among themselves Slovenians are very social and love to eat and drink and get together. But at such a moment they suddenly become overly modest and polite. Some of you who live here or visit more often will undoubtedly recognize this. How do you deal with this? Maybe some Slovene that reads this could give me some inside?
Fortunately, they are not all like that, but it is something I encounter regularly. Does anyone know whether this is also the case in other countries? Perhaps for me, being Dutch, this strange, but is it something that also occurs in other countries. Please let me know!
In the summer it will be easier again because then we can sit outside and the threshold is apparently a bit lower. So we just have to wait a little while longer …… 🙂