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I was at a friend’s party. The room was full. The conversation was about our construction and renovation issues. A woman, who lives in an old house, was worried. She spoke about cracks in the facade that had been there for a long time. They sort of belong there. Until someone who visited took a closer look: “Quite the cracks! Shouldn’t you do something about that?”. The woman said she had taken a closer look, and lo and behold: did they get bigger? Significantly bigger, even? She immediately called an expert, who promised to come by as soon as possible. After four weeks, he had finally found an opening in his schedule. “You know, one of those guys”, she said. We nodded. (If she had said ‘my’ guy, she would have meant her four-year-old son. But that would’ve been strange.) We immediately had a picture in our heads. He studied the cracks and didn’t think it was an urgent job. “Is that all ma’am? In Groningen, they would laugh at a little crack like this.”
Now, I’m pretty sure they aren’t laughing about any cracks in Groningen, as the tremors there are quite a sad affair. Someone next to the woman said her neighbours had taken out their entire facade. “They had a new one in just one day, fully prefab. It went really fast.” But this was not an option for the woman. She lives in a national monument. There are rules upon rules for what is and is not allowed.
I was still thinking about a crack or a little crack. “In the food industry, even a one-millimetre crack can form a breeding ground for bacteria”, I said. “Then you definitely call it a crack. It’s a matter of perspective.” I was so caught up in the terminology of this construction special that I already started talking about round corners. “Hahaha”, a large man laughed. “Round corners? Isn’t that a cont..., a contra...” he was looking for the right word. “You mean a contradictio in terminis”, I said. He was quiet for a moment. “Oh yeah”, he answered. “You write for one of those magazines, right?”
My friend, whose birthday party this was, held her breath. Was I offended? I’m not usually that sensitive, but this time, it was an understatement. It felt like a real kick in the nuts, even though I don’t have any. But I stood my ground. Because a 51-page special; that is truly a magazine!
Source: © Vakblad Voedingsindustrie 2019