RTW Trip


European Union, I know why your economies suck

Dear European Union,
You seem to be having economic problems at the moment. Fear not, for I have found your problem: you seem to be the laziest people on the planet. Using my vast common sense, I will help you fix your economies.
Step one: go to work

We stayed in Nice, France for a week. This pharmacy right next door to us was open for less than 4 hours that week. And this is typical.

One of the terms of Greece’s debt plan was that they keep “reasonable business hours”. I know you didn’t want to show up to work today. I’m standing outside your shop as we speak trying to give you money, but you didn’t do the bare minimum and sulk behind the counter.  In fact, you haven’t been open all week.
Here are some things that you Euro’s think are normal which are actually crushing your economy:

  • Take a 5 day weekend if a random holiday falls on Wednesday
  • Leave for several hours with a sign saying you’ll be back later
  • Fail to show up because you didn’t feel like it
  • Close shop for 2 hours every lunch and dinner
  • Be open randomly throughout the day with no consistent hours
  • Go on vacation for your busiest months out of the entire year

The last one is particularly bizarre. If your shop specializes in services for tourists, you really shouldn’t be taking one of your busiest tourist months off for vacation.
At every stop in Europe, we see many businesses that are open for only 1-2 days per week.
Step two: eat meals in under 2 hours
Eating for 6+ hours every day is pretty cool, right? I think a lot of Americans would agree with you on this point. But you guys mostly just sit around waiting for your food, killing time and not actually eating. Across the pond, people like Elon Musk think that 15 minute meals are a ridiculous waste of time that could be used productively. Let’s try and cut back to an hour at first.
Food now comes in pre-prepared states and in disposable containers. This means you can take the food wherever you want, open the package, and eat it right away! Eating at your desk can give you 4+ hours of extra productivity per person, per day. Don’t give me the “healthy” angle either because I can clearly see your drinking, chain smoking, and fries-with-everything policies.
I know you as a continent are addicted to going to a restaurant with 2 people trying to serve and cook for 50 customers at once, but sitting there waiting for food isn’t doing anything other than being lazy.
Step three: don’t drink alcohol and then go to work
Here’s a true fact about the United States you Euro’s didn’t know: if you drink alcohol at lunch, there’s a very real chance your company will send you home that afternoon without pay and give you a warning for unprofessional conduct. That sound just now was European’s heads collectively exploding. I’ve just opened up tens of millions of jobs and reduced unemployment. You’re welcome, EU.
The crazy theory about NOT drinking at every meal goes as follows. A human thinks clearer when not drunk. Euro’s, read that sentence again until it stops spinning.
Step four: work is not just a place for smoking
The idea is that at work a person creates value for other people through products or services. Chain smoking out front doesn’t really create value for anyone. I’m sure this is confusing because I see every business with multiple professional smokers outside all day. Try mixing in a few non-cigarette related tasks between packs and see if you make more money.
Step five: try improving things that obviously suck
On Sundays, people typically rush to the market for the 1-3 hours it’s open before everything in the country inexplicably closes. The fact that the market is PACKED every Sunday morning means that there is a real desire for things to be open on this day. Maybe do something crazy like being open on a Sunday and vacuum up all the money that no one else seems interested in collecting.
Or try and solve problems that plague your countries, like terrible infrastructure or graffiti. Many of your centuries old towns are super cute, right up until we try to find parking or use the toilet. The first person to figure out graffiti is going to make a killing. Because you guys love spray paint even more than 2 hour lunches.
Stop lying to yourselves, Europeans
Someone right now is reading this and getting really mad.  They are finding studies that show Euro’s as hardworking and blah blah blah.  The problem is that I’m in your countries and can’t find any evidence of hard work.  I can clearly see you getting to work at 10 am (rush hour), taking a 2 hour lunch, and leaving around 6 pm (rush hour).  And doing this 3-4 days per week.  It’s plainly visible that your businesses are closed most of the time.
Similarly, it’s easy to tell a hard working country like Japan.  Their AM rush hour starts very early.  Their PM rush hour goes very late.  People are still in business attire past 9 PM.  The cities are lit up at night with so many offices and businesses still going strong.  During the day the cities feel empty.  But they come alive at night as the people pour out from their offices to enjoy an hour or two before the next 10-12 hour work day.  There’s tons of evidence of hard work.
Let’s compare some US and European experiences
I’m hungry in the US. I just drive to the corner market that’s open 24 hours, or one of the fast food chains open 24 hours, or a restaurant still open, or a convenience store open 24 hours.  Tons of options because eating is a very simple need.
I’m hungry in Europe.  Whoops, it’s Sunday and everything is closed.  Or a holiday.  Or after 10 pm.  Or before 11 am and no restaurant is serving food.  Or 3 pm and only coffee is being served.  See, even when your businesses are open you guys still can’t be bothered to actually work.
We are at Disneyland in Orlando, Anaheim, Tokyo, or Hong Kong.  The rides are open all day and we have fun.
We are at Disneyland in Paris.  Literally half of the rides close for both lunch and dinner, and for several hours.  Sure there are people saying it’s due to “technical difficulties”, but when it happens on multiple days during both lunch and dinner and staggered across all of the rides you’re not fooling anyone.  No other Disney park does this, because other cultures aren’t catastrophically lazy like Europeans.
Hiking in the US.  There is a severe risk of fire that day, so no one is allowed into the park.  That sucks, but it’s good to be safe.
Hiking in France.  There is a severe risk of fire that day, but we arrived at noon to hike and that was during their 2 hour lunch break so the park officials just left their post.  To hell with safety if it interferes with lunch, right?  We discover we weren’t supposed to be there when we exit.  There were no signs or anything either.  And several dozen people were in the park.  So their lunch break was worth more than several dozen people’s lives.
Work isn’t everything, but you’ve taken it too far
European Union, if you ever wonder why you’ve been passed by the US and China, it’s simple.  You were out to lunch.



  1. david
    January 7, 2016 / 6:55 am

    Came for online tanks, stayed because awesome. You are in central Europe at the moment right? How did you spent the holidays in a foreign country on another continent? Do you think the introduction of the TVP T 50/51 will make the batcat obolete?

  2. Jamie
    September 13, 2016 / 8:55 pm

    Dude, you take the whinging yank stereotype to the next level.
    Go back to America and enjoy your Taco Bell and plastic cheese!

    • John
      September 17, 2016 / 4:21 pm

      If you worked harder you could afford to come here and see there’s a lot more to the US than you think.

  3. Richard
    May 30, 2018 / 10:52 pm

    Hey, smart guy, if you think these business could make money by simply being open to tourists, there’s a fantastic business opportunity for you – don’t you think?
    You’re whining about poor service – well, I bet you could make a TON OF MONEY, if you just gave good service.
    Try it….

  4. Club
    March 7, 2019 / 6:02 am

    Well John, I’m a European and some of this stuff simply IS true but only in certain places and to a very limited degree. Frankly; most North Europeans would dream of a 2H lunch break… True, Southern Europe closes long hours in the afternoon and I find it weird but they also open later usually and locals are well aware of that so maybe you just failed to do your homework? A little balance and accuracy (if not honnesty) wouldn’t hurt your argument, don’t you think? Beyond the lack of fairness, there seems to be a lack of understanding of some of the root causes for these factors. You seem to be surprised that some shops will close during the Summer but that’s simply to match their children’s vacation time or to enjoy the sun themselves… (Duh? Surely a smart guy could have figured that one out?) You also seem eager to placate American expectations on top of European realities. You want to go to a restaurant in the morning but folks here simply don’t. So what? They go to a bakery where they can get a sandwich if need be. As for ”European Union, if you ever wonder why you’ve been passed by the US and China”… let’s get real, shall we? As a whole, the EU matches these geographic zones’ population and their economy so let’s compare what’s comparable. As individual countries, why would we stay ahead of countries that are as big as continents? To suggest that this is due to laziness is a gross misrepresentation. Do you really think all your readers are uneducated, easily impressed Americans or dozed out Europeans without a clue? Wisen up, John. It’ll make for a more interesting read overall.

  5. May 28, 2020 / 1:02 pm

    “Here are some things that you Euro’s think are normal which are actually crushing your economy:
    Take a 5 day weekend if a random holiday falls on Wednesday
    Leave for several hours with a sign saying you’ll be back later
    Fail to show up because you didn’t feel like it
    Close shop for 2 hours every lunch and dinner
    Be open randomly throughout the day with no consistent hours
    Go on vacation for your busiest months out of the entire year”
    This all sounds pretty awesome tbh

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