Sometimes I think about the hard-working farmers hundreds of years ago, constantly working the land to feed the family and earn enough money to survive. I think about people working all day, sweating in mills or factories to make a decent wage. I think about explorers, facing harsh conditions, hunting for food and making discoveries to further our civilization.
And then I fast-forward to today and realize that there’s a Finnish guy on YouTube making money by posting videos smashing various objects with a hydraulic press. And he has over 1.7 million followers.
Sometimes my husband and I wonder what our kids might say to a therapist when they get older. Last week, we got a little preview from our 9-year old.
We assign the kids at least 2 chores each week. Last week, when I mentioned that I might ask one of our kids to vacuum, our youngest son said, “Vacuuming shattered my view on life!”
“Because one time, you guys told me to vacuum, and then when I got to your room, it turns out you were both lying in bed watching the Simpsons while I had to work!”
Oh well. Life lessons.
I used to be in charge of the fruit basket at a previous job. Then they asked someone else to take over. I’m not sure why.
Yes, we take a lot of trips. At the moment, we are in Paris. You may say, “How come you can travel so much? Don’t people work in Sweden?”
The short answer is, “Not all that much.”
The longer answer is that we have lots of fun holidays and we are good at doing our work while having plenty of free time, which keeps everyone quite happy and pretty productive. This particular week, we have 2 days off. One for April 30, Valborg, in which we are all required to stand around a bonfire singing songs and freezing to death while pretending spring is here. The other holiday is May 1, on which you get a day off of work to protest about work, or human rights, war, or pickles if you like.
By taking a vacation during this week, the kids don’t miss much school and we don’t miss much work. The only drawback is that Paris also celebrates May 1 tomorrow and many things are closed for protesting. I might go out and protest that things are closed. Who knows? We will see.
A few summers ago as we were relaxing at a Swedish “beach,” a man came around wearing a white backpack with black spots and a hose attached. He was “THE COFFEE COW.” His special backpack was full of coffee and he would fill you up right there on the beach for a low price. My husband thought this was the most genius idea he had ever seen.
However, you have to understand that:
1. Swedes are crazy about coffee.
2. For some reason, coffee at the “beach” just works here.
The reason this is on my mind is because I saw a girl yesterday morning doing the same thing at the subway station. Now THAT’s a genius idea! In my opinion, it fits better than at the beach.
Coffee Cow wouldn’t go over well on Gulf Coast beaches where I come from.
But a Margarita Cow? Now you’re talking.
That is the word I had to translate the other day (I work part-time translating documents from Swedish to English).
As you see, it can have vastly different meanings. I suppose I was supposed to see which one fit in the sentence, though none of them really did.
Here’s my sentence:
There are ______ instructions.
There are wizard instructions?
There are topping instructions?
There are swell instructions?
I guess the last one makes the most sense – if I’m dealing with a document from a kid writing in the 1950s.
Sometimes Swedish can be hard.
I went back to work last week. I’d been gone over Christmas holidays. Apparently, 2 weeks is enough for me to forget where work is, because I got very lost and ended up in front of the Latvian Embassy.
I can never figure out this area that my job is in. Stockholm isn’t that big of a city, but I’ve just never explored this particular area. While I walked 20 minutes to find my work in this neighborhood, I tried to think why I never get to this part of town in my free time. Then I looked around at the stores – chandelier store, violin store and French tile store. Mystery solved.
I’m currently sitting at work in my winter coat. Normally I sit in the next room with a portable heater all alone. The other people who work here don’t want to sit there with me and call it the “sauna room” because of the heater.
I know many Swedes are descended from Vikings, but even Vikings wore fur and proper winter gear, plus appreciated a warm fire. Why am I the only one freezing all the time? It must be some sort of Swedish pride thing that they can’t admit they’re cold. Or is there still something I haven’t figured out after 14 years of living here. I’ve learned to by down-feather coats, have a hat that goes over my ears, wear wool socks…. things I never knew about in Texas.
But I still think they’re hiding things from me about how to stay warm. Maybe I earn a new badge when I’ve made 15 years here. Then I get a new secret, “we all coat ourselves in butter under our clothes” or something like that.
Sweden is great because sometimes you can get 50% jobs as well as 75% jobs. It works out well especially if you have kids to pick up from daycare or take to activities.
I think this one is going a bit too far though.
87.5% – What kind of random strange percentage is this? Not 88! Not 90! We have calculated it to the very minute and you better not work one minute more!
I’m looking for something part-time to supplement my translating work. I like the ads that are straight and to the point. Too many of them are full of double-speak and fancy wording for menial work. Let me decipher this for you:
-Provide administrative support and briefings to senior management ( Bring coffee and donuts at the Monday meeting.)
-Organise and coordinate internal and external meetings, preparing agendas, transcribing minutes, reception of visitors (Book the meeting room, which takes 2 seconds but somehow the “suits” can’t do that on their own, sit in the back with a laptop or pen & paper so we look fancy even though we could just record this and store it in a sound file, sit at the front desk so no one steals our flowers.)
-Support the procurement processes within a specific programme (order paperclips online from Office Depot)
-Perform various other administrative tasks as deemed necessary (We’re gonna need more donuts.)
It’s that time of year again when I keep an eye out for extra jobs. Today’s favorite was “German agent for fraud.” (I like to ignore the “for fraud” part.)
I don’t like to read the description. I just want to imagine that they would advertise for secret agents. I imagine that’s how they recruit them in every country, right? On the government website.
Ok, I understand that parents are outraged, and I probably would be too, but you have to admit it is a little funny. I think we’ve all had days where we felt like doing this:
“Baines Middle School students on the bus said it started when the driver became angry because several children on the bus were being loud. The students said the driver stopped the bus on a busy bridge in traffic, packed up her purse and got up to leave.
“We asked her, ‘Why did you stop the bus?’ And she turned off the engine and threw the keys at me, and said, ‘No, since you want to ask questions and make problems, you drive the bus.'”
Today most Swedes go back to work from the holidays. The subways and buses will be full of bleary-eyed people chugging coffee and wondering where all those mornings in bed have gone. It’s easy to completely change your schedule with 2 weeks off. Lately we’ve been up til midnight and waking up in the mornings around 9 or 9:30am. (Don’t laugh – that’s pretty late when you have small kids.) Today we eased our way back with 7:30am. Tomorrow when the kids start school, it will be 6:30 am. Oh the horror! How do people do this? After 2 weeks, I’ve completely forgotten how this works. After 2 weeks I’ve also forgotten how to eat normal things for breakfast and not waffles and cookies! After 2 weeks I’m going to have to wear actual clothes and not pajamas!
I hope Easter gets here quickly.
Am I the only one taking my vitamin D up here in Sweden? Everyone seems quite depressed lately. Today was the first day back at work from the holidays. They called a meeting at work and tried to start with the usual, “How was your vacation?” to break the ice. This reminds me of the first day of school, when we would all have to introduce ourselves and say something interesting. It never worked. I wonder what the teachers imagined it would be:
“Hi I’m Fred and I was raised by wolves!”
When in reality, it was:
“I’m Fred. I watch t.v.”
The answers don’t get any better in adult situations. Here’s a sample of the answers to that question at our meeting today:
“My family had stomach flu all Christmas. It was great. I had time to paint the walls.”
“Some guy punched my friend in the stomach and ended up in jail on New Years.”
“I had to tell my in-laws they couldn’t come over because I found out they had a highly contagious disease.”
“My son works at the hospital. Instead of fireworks injuries this year, it was suicides and overdoses. That was a change.”
“Oh, but I heard some good news today! All the little kids that are dying in the hospital downtown get to have a dog.”
Thanks for that positive statement. Maybe next time, take out the words, “dying” and “hospital” when you follow the good news statement.
I can’t wait to hear what happens over the Easter break.