It has gotten to that point in the trip for me where I am starting to miss certain nuances about the United States like getting water as soon as you sit down at a restaurant and your waitress asking how your meal is going. Customer service and hospitality is not a strong suit for Czech people. For example, the other night a group off eleven of us went out for dinner to a popular Czech restaurant, Lokal. Czech cuisine is different, it is hearty and filling and not made with vegetarians, vegans, and gluten-free people in mind. Four of us arrived at Lokal at the time of the reservation and then the rest showed up ten minutes later. Four of us had time to order beers and get them but as soon as the rest of our party showed up it was as if our waitress didn’t want to deal with us because they didn’t order drinks until almost ten minutes after they sat down. Then it took another fifteen minutes for the drinks to come out. Our food all came out at different times and someone even received an extra beer they didn’t order. They brought out a wrong dish and yelled at us for ordering the wrong thing and after figuring out what we had actually ordered the food never came out. Nobody apologized for making a mistake to us. It was a frustrating and confusing experience for everybody when we just wanted to have a nice group dinner out. The food was great though!
I am sure this story sounds like a classic language barrier problem but it is just how customer service and hospitality is here. My last blog post was like this one but I explained my professional issues with consideration and respect and now I am running into similar problems outside of the office as well. I just find it interesting how different cultures can really be, all the books and blogs I read before coming here told me about the hospitality of Czech people but I never really felt the coldness until now. Perhaps it has been in my face the whole time but I have just started to notice it. I also shouldn’t limit this post to hospitality, I believe it is the Czech behavior to not be friendly. I have gotten ugly stares on the tram before, especially when I am with more than just me. There’s an overall distaste for any outsiders and it shows through their behavior, obviously not every Czech person is like this and there are establishments with great customer service but it is always easier to notice when something is lacking or bad than when it is good.