Due to centuries of occupation, of having to live with those who can’t speak their language, the people have developed a method of getting their way, or at least of preventing you from getting yours, as exemplified by The Good Soldier Svejk.
As much as one might critisize this behaviour, you have to admire it’s long term affects, and it’s effectiveness in driving away foreign elements from this fabled Bohemia.
How to recognize passive-aggressive behavior?
Well, has this ever happened to you? Let’s say you’re standing in line, to buy a metro pass, or perhaps to make a purchase at the potraviny (grocery store). All of a sudden, some old lady walks up to the clerk to ask an item’s price, then upon getting the answer, wham, takes your place in the line. Or perhaps you’re trying to get the waiters’ attention, and you dare to speak up, and then find yourself completely ignored. You’re a victim of passive-aggression.
What can be done about it? Well, as the Hapsburgs, the Nazis and the Communists tried; they shot, beat, tortured and displaced the Czechs in various degrees of frustration. All to no real effect. I mean, look what happened to those organizations, all finished. No, violence is not the answer, and all though it is therapeutic, it only re-enforces passive-aggressive behavior.
What you need to do is to master passive-aggressive behavior, and frustrate them with their own behaviour. Take for example last week, as I drove my Skoda 105 towards my overpriced apartment. I’m driving down a one-way street that only exits by going forward, (the only other exits go to a dead-end and a ‘do not enter’ street). Ahead of me, an ambulance comes to a stop in front of a pub/pool hall (it’s 5 minutes ’til midnite) right in front of me.
I flash my headlights and he turns on his flashers. I beep my horn, and the two come out and towards me in a show of mock bravado, at the last minute turning towards the pub and one of them dismisses me with a wave of his hand. I watch them in the pub, it’s not an emergency, some guy just a little too drunk, and they could’ve parked in the intersection 5 meters further with space for traffic to go through.
Well, guess what? I ain’t havin’ it!
So I back up quickly, all the way around the block, and park my car right in front of theirs’. Quickly, I go down the street to watch from a phone box. After around five minutes, about ten other cars line up behind them (Czechs love lines!) and the ambulance drivers find that someone has blocked their way! So they hit the squelch, making that cop-car noise, but of course, I don’t come running.
The people in line saw them getting in their ambulance, so they think that the line’s gonna start moving any second now. Of course, the people in line can’t see my little Skoda in front of the big ambulance. After about five minutes, the ambulance guys, if they want to get anywhere, have to start getting the people behind them to back up. Which takes a little bit of effort, lots of confusion, and I’m quite sure is a bit of a pain in the ass on a cold midnite in Prague.
A little extreme you think?
Well, to be honest, it accomplished two things; revenge, I was highly satisfied and entertained to say the least. Secondly, maybe, just maybe, the next time they stop and block traffic in a non-emergency situation, they’ll remember this incident and think about how their actions’ effect others, and the consequences they’ll suffer for their selfish and thoughtlessness towards others.
Next issue: How waiting in long lines means you can steal more!