For this blogpost, I focus on some of the unexpected adventures of being in Stockholm, Sweden. Some of these I discovered during my previous visits. However, it’s in these past few months that I’ve really become aware of how uniquely Swedish they are.
Number one on my list is learning the art of bagging groceries. In Stockholm there is no bagger (officially called courtesy clerk). You do it yourself. Cool, doesn't sound too complicated to me. That is until the first time I had to do it. Cue the beads of sweat! The issue for me wasn’t the actual bagging of the groceries. It was that I was slow and not very good at it. And this reality was heightened each time I looked up to see the line stretch further and further towards the back of the store. I was surprised by my ineptitude, considering I was a courtesy clerk for four months during my senior year of high school. But now that I think about it, little white-haired women continuously reminded me to “make sure you don’t put my eggs on the bottom!”
My second Swedish adventure involves discovering the right way to queue. Or stand in line as we Americans say. I really like that Swedes are polite in this way, making sure that everyone respectfully gets their turn. But what wasn’t so obvious to me is that there’s a ticketing system that helps to make this more efficient. Coming from the land of bigger, grander and louder, these ticket kiosks initially weren’t so easy to spot. However, ever since I’ve gotten the hang of finding and grabbing my ticket, I’ve become an accomplished queuing demigod.
Last on my list is laundry. How is it, you ask, that laundry can be a highlight? First let me go on record as saying that although I’m grateful I don’t have to beat my clothes on a rock by the river, laundry is my least favourite chore. That being said, I think Swedes have perfected how one plans for laundry day. My experience in the U.S. is that as you schlepp your clothes to the laundry room, you silent pray the machines in your building are available (and working). In Stockholm, each building has a sign-up system, where a person blocks three hours to have the laundry room totally and completely to himself. Thank you, Sweden, for giving the world IKEA. But why I ask, have you not shared this other nugget of awesomeness? Not only has my fear of being glared at by tenants who think I’m taking too long been eliminated. But now, if I choose, I can also use the space to choreograph a retro Paula Adbul-inspired dance routine while my whites and solids dry. The sky’s the limit!
So, there you have it, a few of my unexpected Swedish adventures. There’s more where these came from. Stay tuned!