Monday, June 05, 2006

What I Hate Most About Prague

There is not much I dislike about Prague. On the whole, I am quite happy here. It is true that I would prefer there to be fewer people downtown, but I am nonetheless glad that people find this a city worth visiting. I would also like to see street names on every corner, but this complaint is not limited to Prague; most cities are deficient in this regard. And while the Czech Republic is known for its bureaucratic annoyances, I have mostly been spared the need to confront these.
After having had almost nine months plus past visits to come up with complaints, I conclude that the thing that REALLY GETS ON MY NERVES is the way that shoplifter-deterrent systems here target me.
I am sure most of my readers have encountered stores that have some sort of electronic gateway guarding the door. Such systems are also common in libraries.
I have not got the faintest idea what sets off these devices. I have never yet set one off in a library without cause (ie, the librarian has not desensitized the book or videotape). No library in Prague rings an alarm when I walk out. On the other hand, it is almost impossible for me to leave a store (and sometimes to enter one) without setting off the bloody things. It even happens in supermarkets from time to time.
This prompts a lengthy and tiresome procedure wherein the security guard has me walk through again to make sure that he heard the alarm correctly. Having verified that I set off the alarm, he then passes my various items through separately. Usually no individual item sets off the alarm, but only the full collection. Sometimes my wallet is enough to set off the alarm, causing guards to speculate that my credit card is at fault. Occasionally my laptop is blamed. No one has ever verified the true cause, especially as sometimes I am carrying almost nothing.
This sort of thing does happen to me now and then in the US, but rarely. Here, I would say it tends to be about three times out of four, which is a strong disincentive to go into any store with an alarm gate. It is most likely to happen at Bonton, at Datart, and at clothing stores. I seldom go into Bonton or Datart without buying something, so it at least I have a purchase and receipt to show, but one could say that I have now had aversion training against looking at clothing.
Well, considering that the weather was only warm for a week or two, I didn’t need to worry that I had to find warm-weather clothes after all. Those turtlenecks and heavy sweaters that served me throughout the winter are apparently going to be my standard gear until I leave. When I give a conference paper at the end of the month, my black wool suit will evidently be just fine so long as I pair it with long underwear. After all, public buildings have turned off the heat by now, so one must wear much more clothing than when it was snowing.

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Blogger Julia said...

The metal detectors don't seem to notice me, but security guards here make up for this neglect. I was in This and That yesterday along with a horde of tourists and women on their lunch break and the security guy made me his special target until I left. I felt like walking out with my hands over my head. Instead, I sauntered casually to the exit, passed noiselessly through the scanners and then had to rein myself in from bolting down the street.

May in Europe used to be the coldest I've ever been, but June is beginning to match up!

June 06, 2006 9:03 AM  
Blogger Kristen said...

I find it startling that it has been around 60 degrees in Prague (according to the info I have) and you need to wear turtlenecks and heavy sweaters!

June 06, 2006 9:26 PM  
Blogger Karla said...

I would say it is generally between 50-60 in the daytime (judging by my little REI thermometer!). By 6 or 7:00 it is usually nice out, then starts to get chilly again.

So... sure, I can't bring myself to wear a turtleneck and additional sweater every day, but a mere long-sleeved shirt requires a sweater, jacket, and warm scarf. If I were moving around more, of course, this would be far too much to wear. Let's just say that it's like summer in San Francisco, only with rain.

June 07, 2006 11:32 AM  
Blogger Julia said...

Plus it is often colder inside than it is out because of the cave affect of meter thick walls.

But for the last few days it has been sunny and getting nicer, so perhaps we'll see some warming trends inside too!

June 08, 2006 8:29 AM  
Blogger Karla said...

I certainly wish it would warm up inside. I have been indoors with a slight cold or something and had to turn the heat on. Standing next to the radiator was much better than sitting in the chair three feet away.

June 08, 2006 3:54 PM  

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