Was driving the wrong way on the Autobahn on Tuesday, because my wife made a silly mistake, and I was completely okay with it. Although it was eight kilometres out of the way, for a grand total of 16 altogether, I didn’t care.
We laughed, she felt terrible and then I jokingly pretended to be really disappointed. We called my Schwiegervater (father-in-law), because I knew he’d have more sympathy for his daughter than I was able to muster at the time.
How was I staying calm?
It’s our holidays, and I didn’t need to be anywhere. Literally.
Even if we’d broken down on the road between Bavaria and Austria, it might’ve been a hassle. Not such a big deal, though.
After a quick search, I found plenty of articles about how an American or international company can manage doing business with such a ‘vacation mentality‘, as it’s apparently now called. Here’s how I read about it in Inc. magazine:
‘But, in my experience, Europe embraces vacation–sometimes in ways that make no sense. I’ve frequently found restaurants that close for two weeks during peak tourist season–because the owners want to take their own vacation time. I’d think they would close in the offseason and make money while they could, but the vacation culture is strong’ (source: Inc. magazine).
Nearly every visitor to Europe during this time of year marvels at how all of France seems to shut down for the entire month of August. Our neighbourhoods in Munich, away from the tourist centres, seem almost like ghost towns. No-one’s home.
To be candid, I love staying in Munich in August when the locals are gone, because you can enjoy the lack of traffic to the Freibad (municipal pool) or the many free tables at your favourite Lokal (watering hole). I call it August all to ourselves.
However, I’ve been that traveler waiting at the gates of France or Italy, where they might as well hang a ‘closed for August‘ sign across the country. Losing business? Don’t they care?
Actually, I’ve spoken to various executives about this over the years, and their perspective seems to be:
If I miss my holidays with my family just to make more sales, what’s the point of success anyway?
Others, who sell products people need throughout the year, rationalise that they’re not even losing business. At that time of year, few expect to be sold to anyway.
Perhaps it’s simply a change in mentality, because judging only by the sour dispositions of the shop keepers in Paris or Nice on a hot August afternoon? Quality of life, for me, is truly not shopping there.
But especially not in summer.
You want to do business hereabouts in August? No, thanks…maybe see you in September.