Opinion: Remco Retardo

POSTED: 08/5/13 12:20 PM

Remco de Ridder is a Dutch blogger who somehow managed to have a column published in the Volkskrant this weekend. It deals with his vacation-experience, and it provides a deeper insight into the perception of a hapless man who travels to a country (in this case Italy) where he reproaches locals for not speaking English without realizing that he does not speak Italian. What’s worse? Would Italians or, for instance, people from South American countries who pay a visit to St. Maarten have the same attitude about our hospitality workers who just happen not to speak Italian or Spanish?

De Ridder starts his negative vacation-experience with his arrival at the airport. Here it begins already, he writes. “At first you think for a few moments – ah, how nice and exotic and, here they understand and do things we do not understand and do. But it does not take long before you realize that 95 percent of the native population has the same sheepish, silly look one also encounters at the average Dutch village square.”

The reader understands: Remco has never lived in the countryside. He is a big city fellow who thinks that non-city dwellers are morons and that the population in his vacation destination falls in the same category. But Remco brings in the money and money talks. Hence the need for hospitality employees to follow a training that makes them resistant against the Remcos of this world.

Let’s dive a bit deeper into his psyche and follow the rest of his column without comment.

“In the airplane you only received a biscuit and some flat cola, I mean Pepsi, and so you are hungry. That the terminal has windows and that the floors are shining is already quite something, but the zero-intelligence policy for the cafeteria employees quickly brings you back to earth.

Here you are able to look at what you want, even though there are no nameplates with several sandwiches and even though you do not speak Italian, and then you are allowed to attempt to explain which sandwich you want to the non-English speaking cashier, pay, and join the queue again at the sandwich showcase where you were just moments ago.

There you encounter a man, or a boy without name or skills, with an apron and a baker-like cap who is ready to totally not serve you. Instead of reading the order from the ticket, he looks at you expressionless, as if he still has to come to terms with the awareness of his own existence. You call “Bufalino” and you get a cold sandwich that ought to be warm. He forgets the rest of your order – not that he ever was aware of it – and trains his expressionless stare at someone else. That is not fair so you make a remark about it. Now he is confused and the guy next to you is looking aggrieved because it looks like you are jumping the queue.

The sandwich you paid for and the pizza go into the oven and the salad fortunately not. The sandwich is after two seconds on the lukewarm griddle even colder than before and the salad comes without cutlery. Ricardo Retardo, as you have named the motherbaker in the meantime, does not know anything and does not understand anything. He also does not seem to be equipped with vocal cords. You depict his brainpan as some kind of ground zero for thoughts. A vacuum of awareness. A desert of science. A caricature of knowledge.

A sign with an arrow promises a seating area. Three tables with chairs littered with empty Heineken bottles poorly live up to that promise. After consuming your meal devoid of flavoring and nutrients you decide to go and sit down somewhere to read or listen to music. Surrounded by overflowing garbage cans and grandiose gesticulating locals you realize once more how pampered you are in your regulated welfare state.

Fortunately, it is nice and warm here.”

Remco is one of those tourists of whom one is tempted to wish that he’d taken a cruise on the Costa Concordia in 2012, but that would put us on the same level as this cranky fellow who thinks that everything at home is different and therefore better and we don’t want to go there. Instead, the Remcos of this world – wherever they hail from – have to be received with a smile plastered on our faces. We know these types better than they will ever know themselves. But hey, money talks.

Did you like this? Share it:
Opinion: Remco Retardo by

Comments (2)


  1. I took the liberty of publicly sharing this on my Facebook timeline (hence the likes). After all, it is about ME.

    PS. Thank you for ‘diving into my psyche’. You dove so deep I can feel you coming out of my ass.

  2. Kees says:

    One BIG question comes to my mind reading all this…

    What’s wrong with a person that takes all this time to translate this piece from a dutch newspaper and then with a lack of sense of humor takes it way too serious and actually posts it on a St. Maarten newspaper, that has Nothing to do with it.

    Seriously: get a life, whoever it is that wrote this? Because you can say whatever you want but at least Remco de Ridder isn’t afraid to post his name under his article. Don’t you have better things to do at St. Maarten? Obviuoulsy not!

    If you really have so much time on your hands why don’t you try something more usefull for yourself and the people surrounding you and go in therapy. Somebody could (and should) help you with your frustrations and agression showed by the deadwishes to a person that really didn’t do anything wrong besides writing an article that obvioulsy offends people that are, in some miraculous way, personally insulted by this innocent, ironic, but most of all funny piece of writing. Anger management has helped a lot of good people, might help you too. Good luck, Mr/Mrs nobody…