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TM Speech 12 – Ah Belgium! The land of rules and receipt nazis

October 7, 2013

This is my first speech in the advanced speaker humorous speeches category. The objective is to “warm up the audience”. I also gave this speech in the area contest (Semi Finals of the Toastmasters humorous speech contest). I won it and advancing to the finals on Oct 26th. Looking forward to advancing further.


Whoever immigrated to Belgium here…Can I see a show of hands…?

Belgium, Belgium, Belgium…when I decided to move to Belgium from America, I was excited about the experience of living in Europe, the hidden little paradise of Belgium that is. When I told my friends and acquaintances, I faced all kinds of reactions. “Belgium? Where is that again? Is it in California or in another state?”

One educated but ignorant American…and no offense to ignorant people here…asked me where in Germany was Belgium…

What is the reaction I get here? “Where did you say you come from?…California?” and what they actually mean is, “What kind of a retard are you?” as if I am an alien dropped out of outer space and crashed into the Leuven city hall and morphed into an admin assistant. That brings me to my troubles at the city hall.

I swear to God…Every time I go to there, I end up bouncing like a ping-pong ball from zone A to D to F and finally when my turn comes it’s closed. The city hall that otherwise seems to be an organized, peaceful office, for some reason in my case always turns into a concentration camp where I always have to prove my innocence providing all documents to those prickly ladies in charge who seem to be permanently at the peak of their PMS cycle!

For instance, I go with all my documents for registration, they note down my details, I pay and then the lady tells me once I get the letter from Brussels, I just come over with the letter and they will give me my residence card. Fine. After a few days I get my letter, then go to the city hall and the receptionist asks me if I got the receipt of payment? I give her a blank face and say no. She thinks for a bit and tells me to go the zone D.

After waiting for an hour or so, I get my chance to turn in the letter. The lady there asks me, “So did you bring your receipt?”. “….err, no…but isn’t that’s why I was sent to this counter specifically as a special case?”. “No”. “I don’t have my receipt. I paid when I submitted my application and the fact that you sent it to Brussels implies I paid…and you should have it in your records…I was told only to bring the letter.”

Then I get this strange un-describable look of “too many questions, too much logic”….and…”No, you have to bring the receipt also. We can’t give your card if you don’t have it…”.

So, I looked straight into her eyes with a straight face and said “I lost it. So, now what?”

Now she gets upset a bit and gives me this look that only married men can understand.  It is all unspoken and you regret your birth for the rest of your life!  It is as if she starts to teach me something I don’t need to know anything about at that point of time. “Be a man now…how can you be so careless?” kind of look and says, “You just can’t lose documents like this. These are official documents. We expect you to keep them safe. Once we give you, you just can’t throw them away?” and the look continues -“Ok. I have a copy of your receipt here. I will give the card to you…”.

“Aah what a relief”…I could’ve been deported if not for that last minute upswing in the mood of that lady!

And the lesson learnt: I better make sure I never forget my receipts!


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