By now our expectations for trying to accomplish most anything in Austria in the summer months are pretty low. A couple of weeks ago I took Anna Grace for an eye doctors appointment on a Wednesday. Walking past the tailor, I reminded myself to bring a few items in for repair. The following day I walked over with my bag of clothing only to find a handwritten note taped on the door. “Urlaub bis 3 September.” Sucks to be those people who needed to collect their garments, but that’s how it goes here. Putting a note up, say, a day or two, or even a week prior would have been too much like customer service.
The weather has been unseasonably hot and dry here for weeks. Our new house stays relatively cool; and the Midwesterner in me knows how to place the floor fans for optimal ventilation. Simple physics. Walking home from the failed tailor’s effort I paused to admire a dress in a boutique window. I was about to enter the shop when I noticed the proprietor, practically swimming in a pool of her own perspiration, with not a single fan to circulate air. “Fool,” I said to myself, “Did you know that after indoor plumbing and sliced bread, technology continued moving forward and created air-cooling devices?” I kept walking.
In our years here now we’ve pretty much given up on spontaneous dining out in the summer, as well. It is simply too depressing to arrive at a restaurant to find the, “Gone Fishing” sign taped to the door; and we’re not into being dutiful lemmings who head to the predictably open shanigartens or heurigers for plates of Austrian food. Thank goodness we have a barbecue, is all I’m saying.
Forty-five days ago I purchased a Vespa. In order that the paperwork be processed for a VAT-exempt purchase I was required to pay for the scooter in full. That doesn’t guarantee timely customer service, though, we are learning, especially at the state level. The last six weeks have gone something like this:
Weeks 1 and 2. Dealer: “You need to complete Form X before I can send Forms A and B.” Form X was completed promptly, but Forms A and B were not sent for two weeks because sales person, you guessed it, went “Auf Urlaub,” a point we only figured out after several telephone calls. Why on earth would the sales person tell us that he wasn’t going to do shit with the paperwork for two weeks? Because that would be too much like customer service.
Week 3. Our sales person returned from holiday, but sat on the paperwork for another week because we had not called to ask whether the paperwork had been sent. Really. That is what the asshat told us.
Week 4. WE discovered that the asshat had misinformed us about the paperwork. Back to square one, and with no apologies from the asshat. Within a day the correct and complete paperwork was sent for the final stamp of approval by the Austrian Foreign Ministry.
Here we are at Week 6. The Vespa dealer has my money, and I still do not have my scooter. I have seen it at the dealer, wrapped in plastic and waiting for me. I guess that’s something. Telephone calls to the ministry go nowhere; I don’t believe our contact person has voicemail. Why bother? That would be too much like customer service. I am resigned to not actually taking receipt of the Vespa until September, when the country reopens for business. As a friend suggested, I probably should order the winter equipment for the scooter, to be on the safe side at pickup time.
We are nearing another one of those 60 hour country shutdowns, the double whammy of a Saturday bank holiday and the usual Sunday Shutdown. Stores are shuttered by 20:00 on Friday evening, not to open again until around 08:00 Monday morning. This particular shutdown will have little local impact, though, since most Viennese are somewhere else on holiday.
We, too, shall “Czech” out of Austria and head to our friendly northern neighbor for the weekend, open for business, summers included.