Real Urban Legends: the Safety of Amsterdam

When I first got here, I stayed in Amsterdam for a week as I waited for the realtor to prepare my contract. That week, a friend explained to me how safe the city was: on the Queen’s Day in 2011, he had a friend visiting from London who forgot her purse on the steps of a house during a street party. She had 300 euros in the purse, and his number. The next day, a phone call assured them the purse was safe. Those who come from crowded big cities are amazed by the decency and honesty of Dutch people.

How crowded it gets on Queen’s Day by Peter Dejong/Associated Press

In the middle of ‘hot time summer in the city’ last week, probably because of the atypically hot weather (27 degrees) I got out of the tram number 2 without my laptop on my way to a lunch appointment. I arrived in the cafĂ©, only to realize that my laptop was missing. I was already in a panic by the time my friend arrived. So instead of lunch, I got into the tram 2 and continued till the last stop.

I thought my laptop was gone for good. Every time I forgot my smart or stupid phones, I found them. But I feared expecting the recovery of a laptop was too much-even for me, though like a cat always falling on four feet. When I arrived at the end stop, they told me they found my laptop! But thinking I was going to the central station to pick it up, it was still on the tram 2. The officers of the last stop contacted the tram and asked it to bring it back to the end stop. Meanwhile, I had another appointment at three, one I wanted to show up for. The GVB Service & Veiligheid officials offered me a ride so we could go meet the tram and I could make it to my appointment.

Waiting for the tram with the GVB Service & Veiligheid official

I knew my laptop was safe. I totally enjoyed the adventure of riding over the tram tracks in the GVB car. The GVB guys were so cool, they knew the city inside out, taking short cuts, and entirely lacking the love for bureaucratic procedures that is so common among Dutch officials. It was as cool as one afternoon in 2008 when a young policeman let me use the secret tunnel under the Bosphorous Bridge so that I could load my toll card before I crossed from Asia to Europe. Back then, the KGS card office used to close at seven and I was going to return later than that.

It seems in Amsterdam the only thing to fear for is your bike!