10 years ago, when I moved to Brussels, I quickly discovered that Europe did not exist. That image that many in Spain have of a continent in which efficiency, transparency, honesty, wealth or good work is directly proportional to the number of kilometers that separate, in the north, from the Ecuador It’s pure fiction.
The nonsense is equal to or greater than elsewhere. The classic example usually focuses on public services, with the deficiencies and delays – or rather delays – in the Administration. The nineteenth-century bureaucracy. Or with the problems of garbage collections, a classic in these costumbrista columns. But the shock is perhaps deeper in issues that directly affect the private sector, given that international productivity rankings place Belgium in very prominent positions.
It is very likely that the most brutal, sincere and devastating manifestation of suffering that I have seen was the day in which a poor waitress in the cafeteria of one of the main buildings of the European quarter had to endure cruel journalists asking, hit, three coffees. Not one or two, three: one alone, one with milk and one cut at a time. The sound of the broken soul, the screeching, the anguish, was heard perfectly. She couldn’t conceive of having to process something so hostile. She did not contemplate, because of her position, that this order could be processed simultaneously. One by one, with good handwriting and in record time of five minutes and merci.
When I arrived they told me to be patient to get internet. I thought they were exaggerating but not. The first attempt led to spending three hours in a store, endless negotiation, and leaving defeated. They provided service on my street. They provided service in my building. But not in my plant. My neighbors had a contract with them, but the second they couldn’t and they had no idea why. The second company was more efficient: after two hours we concluded that I could have a telephone and internet, but no television. And they had no idea why. I reluctantly assumed I could live without it, but it didn’t matter, because they didn’t offer the service without that part of the package either. The third signature was solution: They offered everything and I was also lucky and it could be immediate, because the previous tenant had canceled months ago, but they had forgotten to cut off the service; so it was enough to connect the device for automatic connection.
This week the lament of the famous actor and musician has gone viral Stefaan De Winter, who has been waiting and desperate for six months for the main telecom to put internet in his father’s house in Ostend. They have made an appointment up to eight times, but they have never shown up. And, each time, his parent has to move away from his habitual residence, along with his wife, who is hospitalized for dementia. After more than 50 unsuccessful calls, went to the microphones of a radio program to cry: «I don’t understand it. “If any small business had done this, it would have gone bankrupt long ago.”