I’ve had a revelation about Hungarians lately that has changed my outlook completely. Hungarians are authentic. Not two months ago I wouldn’t have chose the word authentic to describe them, but rather grumpy, melancholy, mean, rude. You see, coming from a customer service culture, when I sit down at a restaurant I know that I am paying the waiter or waitress to be nice to me. It’s all part of the game.
However, Hungarians play by different rules. If said waiter has had a bad day- perhaps he got in a fight with his girlfriend, was up all night with the runs, or has a case of the Mondays- he is entitled to wear that emotion on his sleeve despite how it makes you feel. It’s nothing personal. Why should he hide it if he’s not in the mood to pretend to be happy? If he rolls his eyes at you for asking him to make your coffee extra hot, he was simply utterly unable to pretend that your question did not annoy him.
This revelation has brought freedom to my life. Hungarians wear their emotions on their sleeves. When the society I come from says “Hide it and put on a smile”, theirs says “Keep that frown upside down!” So, now I don’t take it so personally when waiters are rude, when people huff and puff on the tram because they can’t find a seat, or when my students don’t laugh at my jokes (oh wait… that last one has NEVER happened!)
On that note, I’ve also noticed that Hungarians are much happier in the summer. Perhaps the government should invest in some happy lamps and put them around the city to get us all through the winter months.