Friday, April 3, 2009

Madrid Blog--We get sued

...for having children

If you are a foreigner and move to Madrid, do not, necessarily expect a warm welcome.

Yesterday, we, or rather

Don Mark Fleury and Dona Natali Manson

***note to Building Association of Serrrano XX, before you lawyer up, do your research. My husband spells his name "Marc" with a "c." and my first name is spelled "Nathalie;" not to mention that my honest English stone mason forbears would cringe at the misspelling of their last name to confound with that of the notorious 20th century serial killer.

received an official communication from the Juzgado de Primera Instancia de Madrid, from one Don Ramiro Blah Blah, President of the Building Association of Serrano XX, a building of exactly 12 units, half of which were owned at one time by his father in law, in which it is alleged

1) "Mark Fleury and Natali Manson" have four children

2) these children own bicycles

3)and roller skates

4) and scooters (Nathalie comment: nope sorry to disappoint building association president man, the Fleury children do not have scooters in Madrid)

5) that these children get up in the morning (Nathalie comment: yep, at 7am during the week, in order to catch the bus--per state-mandated law that my children be enrolled in secondary education)

6) that the Fleury children have been known to run, jump and shout in the aforementioned apartment

7) that the combination of the above results in an indiscernible mix of noise reflecting a most scandalous and bothersome comportment on behalf of the Fleury family

8) the residents of Serrano XX have manifested to the doorman the Fleury family's unlikeliness to modify their troublesome lifestyle due to their "American nationality and customs"

9) If these activities persist, the building association in conformity with article 7.2 of la Ley de propiedad Horizantal 8/1/1999 will begin judicial proceedings to deprive the Fleury family of the occupancy of their apartment.

To the residents of Serrano XX: Have any of you opened the window or walked outside the front door lately? Because Calle Serrano is only being gutted and subjected to extremely loud construction noise from dawn 'til dusk due to the street's two-year municipal remodeling project.


Juha Lindfors said...

wow... a serious case of xenophobia.

Roy Russo said...

I thought you made it up, but then I read the doc... they explicitly state the American custom of waking up early in the morning. lol

Tell them you're Cuban and they'll love you in Spain. It worked for me at JBWorld.

Pedro Galvan said...

Marc & Nathalie,

We welcome you guys in Mexico. We are noisy by nature!

doug said...

Unfreakin believable. Seems as the plaintiff somehow made it to adulthood without passing through the child phase. Between that and the 'ghost of Franco' traffic police, my impression of Spain is shifting. I'd always thought the European experience was enhanced because of a non-litigious slant. Hopefully the magistrate is of a more noble perspective - or case drops for lack of merit. Could turn up the heat and get the kids a 'Guitar Hero' console!

Marcf said...

doug, lol on guitar hero.

Nah, don't let this taint your perception of Spain, it may be because they know there is no way to kick us out that they employ "US tactics" and try to lawyer up. The whole thing is quite ridiculous. I have never met the old man that lives on the 3rd.

The street looks like "falluja", but on the bright side the boys get to see construction from the get go.

Ben said...

This is classic, just buy the whole building and kick everyone out:) You can be as loud as you want in your home on Sharondale. The Atlanta crew misses the Fluery clan, and promises not to sue for waking up and going to school.

Ben said...


One of your favorite quotes..

"First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win."

I think that describes this situation well.

Miko Matsumura said...

children that run, jump and shout que horror!

Nathalie said...

Hi everybody. Thanks for the messages of support. Our neighbors are complete jerks, but I wouldn't say they are characteristic of our experience in Spain. We have met some lovely people here who say this is not typical at all. In fact, in Spain, it is extremely difficult to kick out renters--even if they are criminals, destroy your apartment and don't pay the rent. So I think these people have some sort of shallow stereotype of Americans being very litigious and thinking they are going to intimidate us, when they are only achieving the opposite effect. They have completely destroyed any sympathy I might have had for them, whereas if they had approached us in a civilized and less hostile manner, we would have made a sincere effort to see what we could do to quiet the children.

Jean-Luc Vanhulst said...

"The street looks like "falluja", but on the bright side the boys get to see construction from the get go."

I can contest to that, gettin caught up in a shop robbery in plain day light! :)

Roy Russo said...

How do people rob in Spain? They don't have guns. Do they just wave a baguette menacingly at you?

Jean-Luc Vanhulst said...

Hi Roy,

Well no guns were involved but some seriously big cars. They used them to ram the door of the fancy shop and another one to block the street. (I guess it really fits Marc 'falluja' style) As for the baguettes, didn't see those but they were all wearing shawls and hats. Which it first made me think 'hey that looks funny, they look like robbers'. And then they turned out to be robbers :)

Anonymous said...

Is astonishing how arrogant the people from the USA can be...

Whether you like it or not, this is a fact, and well known world wide.

I live in Belgium, and you can not disturb the neighbors crying, shouting, running in the stairs, corridors etc at 7 a.m. neither.

I have lived also in many countries and this is obviously the same everywhere. If you are used to make noise that can bother other people at 7 a.m. just move to an individual house in the country. Not to an apartments building in the very center of a big town.

Spain is a modern and democratic western country. Its laws and cultural behavior, are more liberal and advanced, in political and social terms, in many cases, than those from the USA.

Spaniards wake up early to go to work too. They start normally at 9 a.m., or before, and. as anyone else, they deserve to sleep quietly before.

Is difficult to believe that Spaniards, that are themselves, culturally, quite open, talkative, and noisy, even stentorian people; complain about you being too noisy and bother the neighborhood, unless you really are doing it, and being a pita., and then not accepting it and being arrogant.

So when you move to another place try to respect the local culture and habits and not to impose yours...

All your blog article, and many of the comments exhale bias, xenophobia, and racism. But not in the direction the first comment says. But, xenophobia against Spaniards.

This is obviously nothing knew, the USA culture and citizens have, historically, shown arrogance, violence and bias against other peoples and cultures, specially those that are not from Anglo-Saxon or western European Aryan origin.

Not surprising... after all you stole. with violence and wars, half of your country to Mexico, a big chuck to France and Spain, and all the rest to the aborigine American Indian people.

I have lived in many countries, met plenty of people from anywhere in the world, and I know about it!

Your article stinks.. just stfu, and learn to behave and respect other peoples and their habits, cultures and life.
Wake up when you want but do not make noise that can bother others.

I guess you would react in the same way if living in the USA and someone bothers you systematically at 5 a.m., if you wake up at 6 a.m.

Hopefully, now that you have a president that is half black (and half white... though in your racist culture that is being black), you will change little by little your moods, arrogance,
violence, behavior, and your racism and xenophobia.

Well, hes not a WASP, and that's something, but... Nahhh... after all, is his half white part that is sitting in the Oval Office, If not he wouldn't be there...

BTW, I have read the pdf file with the notification in which you are sued and there is Nothing written there about "scooters".

I came to your blog reading about you and SUN. Try to do something useful for SUN, instead of writing useless and biased articles about other people.

Angela Junquera

Anonymous said...

I have lived in many countries as well, and will say that unlike angela above I do sympathize. It is funny how the spaniards have a reputation for being nice and polite. They do not like children. Children are a nuisance to be avoided. I am not surprised by this act of aggression by your neighbors, they can't stand their own children much less the neighbors. Attacking people for having children is the sign of a sick and disgusting culture.

Roy Russo said...

Angela, take your medicine.

Jean-Luc... makes sense and it happens here as well. Stolen truck runs through front door, and out come the goods.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

"It is funny how the Spaniards have a reputation for being nice and polite."
"They do not like children. Children are a nuisance to be avoided. I am not surprised by this act of aggression by your neighbors, they can't stand their own children much less the neighbors. Attacking people for having children is the sign of a sick and disgusting culture."


Are you kidding?

This assertion is one of the most stupid things I have ever read in a blog comment

Do you really think that Spaniards do not love children, and their own children in particular ???

Every people in the world, every culture, love their children.
It is "pure" biology, and "survival" at the very less...
and cultural coolness and commitment at the most... And Spaniards have this most!

If Spaniards have a reputation for being nice and polite, is because surely they are...
And that is one of the reasons why people from many other European countries want to establish themselves there: cool people, nice weather, nice culture, etc

Spanish families are quite solid, loving, and their members are very close tight together... in a bigger and better way than other western developed countries.

They do not like children???
How do you dare to say such offensive and irrational stupidity???
You really have to be a very simple minded individual, Mr. Anonymous "coward"!

Roy Russo said...

"Angela, take your medicine."

Thanks for your interest in me. I appreciate it.
And to show it, I will tell you something:

"The truth hurts, and the naked truth hurts even more..."

All that I said in may former post is true, rational, and can be sustained trough evidences.

And it is all this, because I am a cultivated person that knows how to think, and how to express ideas and facts.
If you are a USA citizen (I don't mean American, because Canadians, Argentinians, Jamaicans, Colombians, etc are Americans too!), and the truth hurts you, there is nothing I can do.

Maybe a Psychologist could...?

Is not me who needs a pill...

"Jean-Luc... makes sense and it happens here as well. Stolen truck runs through front door, and out come the goods."

Yes, you are right here... Unfortunately there are criminals in all countries.
Robberies, assaults can happen anywhere, and Spain is not exception, obviously...

Or it is... cause the rate of criminal acts, assassinations, and people in jail, is lower in Spain than in the USA.
In fact, these rates are lower in any developed country than in the USA.
Hmm, there must be reasons for that...

Maybe the explanation is: better social services, a more democratic and fair share of the wealth, lower racist and discriminatory attitudes, culture and laws...

Just think about it...

I think Obama is trying to do something about all this...


feniix said...

Obama is trying to do that.


Sorry to disappoint you.

But Angela, every generalization is bad, I am an Argentinian living in Chicago, and I can tell you that there is more nice and warm people that there are jerks.
Of course I bumped into jerks from time to time, but that also happens to be the case in Spain and in Argentina as with any other country.

Roy Russo said...

Of course the funny thing here is that Marc isn't even an American.

Remember... Europe essentially founded the US, gave us slavery, colonialism, nazis, *TWO* world wars, the cold war that followed, and, the Spaniards that slaughtered *drumroll* the indians.

You guys need to work on your history education, across the pond. I learned this stuff in Miami High. sheesh

Marcf said...

hrrrmmmm, this thread is taking a nasty life of its own. Funny thing, as Roy pointed out is that I am franco-spaniard.

The bane of my existence is that when I am in the USA, I am perceived as euro-trash (I am a US citizen now), when I am in Spain, I was derided as a "gabacho" when I was young and a "guirri" now. In France I was derided as a smelly spaniard, which is funny because in general, spaniard care more about their personal hygiene than frenchmen.

And that is the problem with generalizations. It doesn't account for individuals, nice people, plenty of which we know in Madrid, and jerks like the incontinent and senile old fart on the third floor. A jerk does not make a country and I still very much enjoy our stay in Spain. I takes more than a crazy old man puffing up with paper, to scare me. LarryE and his japanese sword are a little bit scarier to be honest. I consider this a minor annoyance.

My wife however is not used to this aggressiveness and basic lack of respect for children (she is american). I honestly believe, as one can glean from posts like Angela above, that unfortunately there is a lot of resentment built up against american citizens in many EU citizens.

At the end of the day, it is a long story, that of the families of the building we live in. Suffice to say that the guy who is suing us is the brother in law of our landlady and there has been an open feud between the two family branches. When the incontinent jerk saw what his sister in law was making out of us he decided to jack up the price on the appartment right in front of us (top floor). The german that was living there couldn't afford the rent anymore as he had just lost his private equity job. They left. So the jerk is without income and probably blames us. Xenophobia, jealousy and a genuine desire to live without the noise of other people's children are the ingredients in this silly episode.

feniix said...

Well Roy, you should re-read your history books, because the Spaniards didn't do any in India (and Indians live in India). Or may be you meant indigenous ;)

They (the Spaniards) are guilty (as well as many other countries namely USA, Argentina to name a few) of many massacres.

By Argentinians, The campaing of the desert in which they erased almost all traces of all aboriginal culture in any land to the south of Argentina.
By USA, I would not know the specific name of the campaign, but we all know the massacres that took place in all the territory of the US.

Nathalie said...

Angela, for a more accurate view of the history of US territorial expansion, please see You might learn about things such as the Louisiana PURCHASE. I agree, the Mexican War and the expropriation of land from the Native Americans were not proud chapters of US history.

However, to say that stealing land from indigenous peoples is the unique hallmark US identity is ridiculous, especially if you are Spanish or have a drop of European blood in you. Oh wait, what about the Aztec, the Arab, Moghol, and Ottoman empires...get off your high horse.

I certainly would agree that the Spanish, like every other nation care greatly for their own children. What people do not necessarily care of is OPC (other people's children). The lawsuit is not so reflective of Spanish law (unless the neighbors improbably win) as the mean-spiritedness of the people behind it.

Anonymous said...

my brother has 5 kids. all survived into adulthood - though no one knows how. He has a name for OPC's (other people's children) - he calls them "pests". (and then he laughs)

tolutcho! indeed!

Anonymous said...


I had just finished writing another comment to post, when I saw yours. So I will post the comment below later, and answer you first, After all is your blog, and the topic is related to something personal and annoying. I hope you will solve this apartment issue rapidly.

"I am franco-spaniard.
The bane of my existence is that when I am in the USA, I am perceived as euro-trash (I am a US citizen now), when I am in Spain, I was derided as a "gabacho" when I was young and a "guirri" now. In France I was derided as a smelly spaniard, which is funny because in general, spaniard care more about their personal hygiene than frenchmen."

OK, Marc, I fully understand your situation and agree with you in absolutely all that, since I have lived a a number of places (including Spain and France), and I know how it is.
I guess by your name that you are probably from Catalonia, with some French ascendant. You all, are and American family anyway.

I am sorry that you encountered some problems with some neighbor because of the children's noise, and probably the vinegar mood of some old fellow in your building.
Probably you are right and is just and old jerk. But, you have to admit, anyhow, that what I posted before is basically true.
I don't think is gonna be easy at all to put you off because of the children making noise, anyway. It won't happen. There is no real base actually in the law for such a thing in Spain.

You said also: "unfortunately there is a lot of resentment built up against american citizens in many EU citizens"

Well, I think there is resentment against the USA in the whole world, not only in EU citizens. And the thing is, that there are some reasons for that.
I think that if you fell resentment in the EU, you should known that there are many other places with much more resentment towards the USA.
After all Europe the USA and all the American continent are cultural brothers.
I believe that, occasionally, what USA citizens feel as resentment is clearly and simply divergence in opinions about different situations and facts, but Americans, from their position of rulers of the world, seem not to understand or accept that.
The USA is a big, great, and extreme country, with great things, but with great failures too.

There are resentment against other countries, like England (or UK), or France, Spain, Russia, Turkey, and a long etc., too, in many other places in the world. and there are reasons for that too.
I will talk a bit about all this in the post that I wrote, that will submit later.

I hope you are lucky in your stay in Madrid, and in your work and business...
It you really have something to do with the SUN thing, I hope you the best of lucks too. But it seems to me now, that those rumors are not credible.
SUN is a very interesting Company, that has produced many interesting things, and is in the good way IMHO.
These are bad times, and I would not like to see SUN bought by IBM. I don't think it would be a good thing for either the world, or the IT industry. But... business is business, and who knows?

Well, I have written a lot here, in this blog's comments and there is still a lot in another post...
Hopefully, I can reuse many of what I have written here in an article, an essay or something. And, if at the same time it did made someone to think a little bit, then it will not be lost time, and writing too much for
angela j

Marcf said...

Angela, the SUN thing was published on "April 1st". Sheesh! how big of a hint do you need. Wake up...

Otaegui said...

Marc, IBM-SUN deal was way before april's fool.

Angela, Marc was JBoss guy, as far as I know he doesn't (as of now) have any relationship with jboss or any java application server company.

And we all know how much we loathe IBM :P

Marcf said...


I am not THAT out of the loop :) Yes, the IBM-SUN thing was for real (although it seems to have died?), I was referring to the spoof that I would ride in and save SUN.

feniix said...

how I missed that, hilarious article!

Thanks for the link.

Chantal Yang said...

How did a funny post about a not-so-funny potential legal battle with a greedy little Madrileno inspire such a seriously misinformed anti-American rant that has no relevance whatsoever -- except that you made fun of this turd of a brother-in-law to your landlady? (Sorry Nathalie, behind on my blog reading)

Anonymous said...

Hello. I am spanish and i live close to you in Madrid

I apologize for he racist comments of these "spanish"

Is true that "in general" the "north-americans" dont have a "nice image" in most parts of the world

But this is not an justification for racism

Please dont ever think we all "spanish" are the same way

Finally, there are "strict rules" about the noise in Madrid -as in many other places- But most people just try to "tolerate and get tolerated"


so sorry

Pierre said...

So, what was the outcome of all that ?

Anonymous said...

Let me introduce those of you in the software community to the Flaming Liberal, Children Hating Peers.

After you recognize yourself in the mirror, please visit the FLCHP headquarters in San Francisco, California, where you can tour the historical Family Museum, a treasure of cultural oddities that occurred during the time when marriage was between a man and a woman. Berkeley anthropology professors are on hand 24x7 to guide you personally through the Museum.

Fady M said...

Yo Marc, been a while I have since the blog but this post is hilarious.
The good thing about being Lebanese and living in Beirut is that if your kids don't do all that fuss the neighbors will complain and accuse you of suppressing them.

So come here for a visit and let them paint the whole town red.

Cheers from the Lebanese Terrorist

Anonymous said...

I think that your own words sink you. From an earlier post:
His office isn't in a medical building at all, but in an elegant nineteenth century residential apartment building. As for the inside of the office, it looks like something out of a period movie from 60 years ago with reproduction antique furniture and books whose publication date probably coincided with the Spanish Civil war. Exactly nothing in the place is child-friendly, from the bay windows with low handles that my 2 yr old wanted to open and pitch himself out of, to the antique looking type-writer on the floor with loads of intriguing electrical wires. Ironically the only concession to juvenile furniture---plastic Ikea kid stools, posed the biggest problem. My 2 yr old proceeded to steal them from other children. Then he discovered that it was more fun to throw them on the floor and watch their legs and tops pop off. This was before he started to climb on the adult chairs and try and pull down the oil paintings (conveniently within the enterprising child's reach) and reach for handfuls of the random pamphlets with information about aloe vera hand creams, "sexo con seso" ("sex without stupidity?") for adolescents, even though I've never seen a child older than 9 at the office, and Parkinson's disease (in a pediatrician's office?) Needless to say I spent the whole time trying to control my little American savage, cowed by the disapproving regard of the other parents and, later, Dr. R.G. de L.

The one time I did bring all 4 children to his office, it was total chaos. The children brought balloons and proceed to run around tossing them to each other, screaming and fighting. My children not only stand out because of their unruly behavior, but also because of their number. With the exception of immigrants, the average Madrileno my generation seems to have one, at most, two children. I couldn't tell if it was with pity or disapproval that Dr. R.G. de L. told me, after our first vist "Usted tiene muchos hijos" "You have lots of children." At that point, I was so exhausted and worn down, I couldn't think of anything better to say than "Pues alguien tiene que tenerlos" "Well, somebody's got to have them..."

Nathalie said...

Anonymous - it's always very classy to criticize other people anonymously. I do often complain about my children and am the last person who would claim they are angels. However, if you have spent any time raising children, you might also realize that they are pretty typical.

Or maybe you are one of those adults who hates children and thinks that you were such a charmer yourself when you were their age. The difference is that 1) I am aware of my children's shortcomings 2) I take a very active role in raising my children. They do mess up, but I am there to correct their flaws. If I lose patience with my own children it is because I am with them quite a lot (with the exception of during the school day).

Since I wrote this post, I have a lot more insight into how Spanish children are raised. I would actually say the more well-off the family is, the more likely the child is to be badly behaved. Similar to any first world country where the parents work full-time jobs, they seem to feel very guilty about not spending much time with their children and often spoil the children rotten. What is different about Spain is that the average work day is much longer, so people come home later and "help" is much cheaper than other European countries and the US. I would say working conditions for the average immigrant domestic employee in Spain today are similar to what it would be to have been a person of color working as a domestic employee in the South of the US in the 1960s -- see the movie "The Help".

Whether or not women work here, if they can afford it, many parents outsource the raising of their children to the help. At the same time, they don't give these people the authority to "educar" teach their children manners. The child is always right. I have heard horror stories from chicas about how the children they were raising would lie to their parents, steal from them (and blame it on the hired help) and scream about both the help and their parents. On the posh playgrounds at the Retiro, where I observe children with their parents on weekends, I very infrequently see Spanish parents correct their children when they misbehave or are rude to other children. The same is not true of middle class parents in the US and the UK.

If you had children of your own, you would realize what a struggle it is to raise them. However, until your children have successfully completed university and graduate studies, and are self-supporting, with jobs they have acquired through their own merit, and have made outstanding contributions for the benefit of mankind, you may not want to be so smug. There is such a thing as bad karma in feeling superior to other parents. In the words of Emily Giffin, "that cute little 6-yr old can turn into the teenage girl who doles out bjs in the backseat of her BMW convertible and hides drugs in her designer handbag."

Anonymous said...

Hi, I am British, I lived in Madrid for 2 years together with my son, we have also lived in many other countries in Europe & South America. So we know what we're talking about.

Our experiences in Madrid could not have been better than they were - I found the place extremely child-friendly. Of course, it always helps if one is oneself considerate of the neighbours and respects their concerns. - Even young children can be taught that they need to move around quietly before 8 a.m. out of consideration for others - they don't need to be running, jumping, yelling etc.

I'm bothered by the sweeping generalizations being made here - on all sides! Don't assume that the neighbours are xenophobic. For sure their problem is not that your family gets up early, but that you then proceed to act as though everyone else was out and about, whereas they might be catching up on sleep.

Your remark about wage-earning mothers with guilty consciences spoiling their kids is another ridiculous sweeping generalization.

As for your comment: hardly any of the neighbours bothered to introduce themselves! Why didn't your family do that, as the newbies? I bet you could have saved yourself a lot of trouble.

Anyway: chill!

Spain is a wonderful country, Madrid a wonderful city, Spaniards warm and friendly people - lossen up & enjoy!