Interview with André-Jan. Individual topic. We met André-Jan in the shop next to the tasting-room of Wynand Focking*. We talked to him back in December 2016. It was a cold day and we were happy to be welcomed in a warm and cozy place. As you can see, he chose his own topic. Reading it back he said he was looking forward to seeing the interview on our blog.
Why does this topic keep you busy?
What I think is going wrong in this country and in this world, is that nobody dares to say No anymore. Everything must be possible. It shows how bad-behaving people can be, from throwing garbage on the street onto how rude some people are when they visit Wynand Fockink, the tasting-room where I work.
What do you do in such situations?
It just happened to me a little while ago, I was at the train station and I asked the young girl that had thrown some aluminum foil (from the sandwich she just ate), on the floor, to pick it up and put it in the garbage bin, which was about two meters next to her.
And how did she react?
She was scared and mumbled: “Oh sorry.” I said: “Don’t do it ever again.” I am just really worried about what I read in the news. Two men were beaten up next to the ferry at central station lately. They happen to be two friends of mine. Then you realize that the acceptance in Amsterdam is getting less. And this is not about homosexual or crossdressers but all people. In general, they are just less friendly with one another.
Any idea why people are different in their behavior towards others, does it have to do with the city life in Amsterdam?
Well, I don’t think it’s so specific. I live in Castricum (40 km from Amsterdam) and there for example if I go to the supermarket people are still greeting each other. Here in Amsterdam, that’s rarely happening. Behavior in Amsterdam is different also because it’s a big international community. But I think the fact that standards and values are fading starts at home. If I had kids, the way I would raise them, teach them norms and values, would probably be different than a lot of parents do nowadays.
What do you think, how does the education nowadays look like?
More unsocial and easier. Everybody has a mobile phone nowadays. Also kids that are 10 years old, or younger.
Do you think the mobile phone has a big impact?
I think it’s worrisome that everybody can know everything about others and that everybody can say everything about others. You can just post on Facebook that you think X is a really, really ugly troll. You can just scream it out to the world. Everybody has an opinion about everything and anything is just possible.
How would you like to prevent that?
I don’t think that’s possible anymore, unfortunately.
And in ideal circumstances?
I think it would be much nicer if the younger generation would act more properly. For instance, I can’t imagine to sit in a train compartment for four people with just one other person, put my feet on the seat and fill the rest with my bags if the train is totally full. I witnessed this lately when a young mother and her teenage daughter did this. People were just passing by and were not able to sit, because of them.
Do you think it has to do with you or the changes that are happening around you?
I think both have an influence on how I see things now. Since I’ve been working at the bar, the way I look at the world and people have changed a lot. For the better. A lot of our customers are tourists and part of the working class. But we also have people that are coming regularly, some even daily. Instead of thinking: “oh no, there we go again!”, I always welcome our customers warmly with a nice “hello, how can I help you?’. I just look at people more consciously.
Have your customers, that are visiting your bar regularly, changed?
No. It’s me that is more busy to look around and observe and I see that humankind, in general, has become just less friendly in their behavior with one another. And I am paying attention to do better.
Do you see it as your mission?
Yes. There are plans to once organize a parade or a demonstration on behalf of acceptance, whether you are straight or gay, a crossdresser or a dragqueen. We already came up with the slogan: “Is your mother proud?”. Yes, you could certainly say it’s a sort of activism I am hoping to be a part of.
*traditional tasting bar, distillery, since 1679 in the center of Amsterdam
Place of Birth: Rotterdam, NL
Parents: father: Adrianus (carpenter), mother: Marry (worked at a hat shop and housewife)
Siblings: Youngest of six kids (two brothers and three sisters)
Profession: Barman at Wynand Fockink, and fashion designer on commission
Relationship status: In a happy relationship since two years.
Romantic or realistic? Both
How many Facebook friends do you have? I don’t know honestly.
Adventure or Stability? Stability
Coffee or Tea? Coffee
If I were a bitterball, I’d be filled with? CHEESE!!! (I dreamed about that! No joke)