Saturday, June 24, 2006

Living in Sweden, pt. 1

I've said it before, and I still wonder: how did anyone ever get Sweden to convert to Christianity? I've never in my life seen such an ardent band of sun-worshipers! I'm not Swede-bashing, honest. In fact, I find it a little endearing that the towns go quiet when summer rolls around, because the entire population has pulled chocks and flocked to their summer houses in the country. Of course, this makes living in the towns a little harder.
Maybe I should back up.
We need an iron. In moving here nearly a year ago, we had to put most of our MANY possessions into a storage unit in the States and pick & choose what would come with us. Most of what we brought was in our luggage when we came, but we also had some later-essentials (winter coats, a wall clock and such) shipped to us by some friends. Nowhere in that plan did an iron fact, I'm not even sure we had one to begin with. Anyway, my wife has been travelling to conferences and will shortly be interviewing for a new job, so the condition of her clothing has become a matter of increasing concern to her. Hence, we need an iron.
She's away right now at one of her things, in London, so I'm on my own here at the homestead. While I was here, before I travel to meet her in Stockholm and on to Bangkok and Australia, I thought it might be a nice idea to go into town to try to track down a travel iron (or indeed any iron). (This was further encouraged by a recently-acquired shirt of my girl's sitting here getting no less wrinkled before I pack it to go with me...)
It was afternoon before I decided to head into town, and I'd already started burning a CD I wanted to listen to on my way in when I discovered the next bus was in 15 minutes. In waiting for the disc to finish, I missed it.
The next bus was in another 20 minutes, at five past the hour, so I felt I could just catch that. I waited until on the hour, and headed over to the stop just a couple minutes' walk away. I got there with, by my watch, time to spare, but when it came to 15 past the hour I figured I'd missed it and came back home.
It would be another 40 minutes for the next bus, and it was still pretty early, so I just hung out and read until my watch showed it was about time I should be going. For some reason, though, I looked at the time on the computer and it read THE time I was supposed to be at the stop! I rushed out the door, but as I was putting the key in the lock, I could actually hear the unmistakeable sound of the bus going by...
Back in I went, and checking the schedule yet again I found the next bus wasn't for another hour, at about ten to four, and I knew the shops downtown would be closing by then. So, I just bit the bullet and decided to ride my bike in.
I don't have any problem with riding my bike, in fact I quite enjoy it. But since the wife's been gone, I haven't been sleeping well and a long trek into town on a windy day was not something I was looking forward to. In truth, riding bike on a windy day ranks high on my (VERY long) list of things I don't like to do. But what choice did I have: tomorrow's Sunday and shops may not even be open, and Monday afternoon I'm leaving the country!
The ride was as arduous and unpleasant as I'd expected, though it's really a beautiful day outside and (other than the severe wind) fairly ideal to be out biking in. Any biking trip around here tends to be hampered by the strangely idiotic behaviour of other bikers and pedestrians in this town. I'll never understand that: everybody bikes around here, but nobody seems aware that anyone else is there! I had two guys in front of me at one point who were taking up the entire path riding side by side, then at the crosswalk, when I thought I could pass them, one of them couldn't get his bike going and the other suddenly decided to turn right into me. Jackasses.
But I did get into town, and it really should have been a dead giveaway that there was only one other bike in the usually busy parking area at the edge of downtown. I locked up my bike, though, and headed for Clas Ohlson, the chain hardware, etc., store where I hoped to find an iron. Instead I found closed doors and little else, in spite of all the posted hours saying they would be open until 4.
For some consolation, I went to the grocery downstairs (which was open) and picked up a bag of Rollos (not the chocolate-covered caramel American candy, but a fudge-filled British soft toffee I've gotten totally addicted to). Then, I thought I'd walk over to the magazine stand where I buy MOJO, on the off-chance the new issue'd come out since I checked three days ago, and then I'd be halfway to another shop where I wanted to pick up something for the wife. The way there is through a store-heavy people's mallway, and every store that didn't sell food was closed. And they all had hours posted saying they'd be open until four! The newsstand was closed, so I didn't even bother going to the other place, and instead went back to my bike and headed home.
Now, I don't know if today's a national holiday or not; I would have almost no reason to know, and it's not as though we have a Swedish calendar to tell us. But, I blame it all on the Swedish population not working on a beautiful day, because they love the sun.


Blogger SaraS-P said...

You'd think they were in post-Katrina N.O. with such shortened hours, but last I checked Sweden had not been shut down by any major disasters. I think they just decided to call it a day. How un-American.

11:03 PM  
Blogger aliceboy said...

Disasters? No, nothing extreme is permitted in Sweden...except drinking. I'd love to say they're just lazy bastids, but they're too nice!

11:05 PM  
Blogger Matt Johnsen said...

Just heat a frying pan over medium-low heat and use that to iron your clothes. Since this is something you only do once every two years, the little extra trouble is a small price to pay. What you should have done when you got to town was just heave a trashcan through the window of the hardware store and waltzed in to steal an iron. The police probably took the day off, too!

6:06 PM  
Blogger lunas_eve said...

I wish we could box up Sweden and take it with us - everyone would experience endless fun (making fun of them). Aw, poor Swedes.

3:46 PM  
Blogger aliceboy said...

Ah, they bring it on themselves! Nobody should be so content!
Sweden has to be lived to be believed, I think.

5:16 PM  

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