It just goes to show you, that the moment you make a pronouncement on a public forum such as, I don’t know, a blog, that life will come along to be like, “You think you know what you’re talking about? Hah!” Yesterday, I posted about how Swedes never, never, talk to strangers. What happened to me today?
Some days here I feel like the Hugh Grant character in About A Boy, dividing my time up into little errands and projects so that the hours that the Viking is at work (and I, noticeably, am not) don’t yawn into eternity. I’ve been doing a lot of reading, I’ve started to study Swedish a little (I hope to start classes in the fall and like the idea of being a teensy bit ahead of the game), I buy groceries (from the Viking’s list… I’m a housewife who can’t cook and his horrible at cleaning – poor guy!), I blog and read blogs, I sometimes have little shopping excursions to pick up household items or things I forgot or couldn’t fit in my baggage allowance.
Today was such a day. I needed to pick up a couple of plug adaptors as it turns out I have more appliances (hair straighteners, laptop etc) than transformer thingys, so, having carefully studied the internet for the nearest electrical goods store, I set out. However, when I got to the store the range of options was confusing as some appliances just need the plug adaptor while others need the voltage transformed and I forgot which was which. Luckily, there was a help counter, so I decided to ask the guy working there rather than risk blowing up the apartment.
It was then I made my mistake. There was nobody waiting in line at the counter, so like the crazy, ignorant, American I am, I just waltzed on up there. And then an old man stepped up in front of me, and the guy turned to help him, even though I had definitely got there first. “Umm, excuse me?” They both ignored me. I stepped back, because I’ve finally realized that when something seems insanely wrong or rude in Sweden, it’s best to check it’s not me misunderstanding before kicking up a fuss.
“You must take a number.” I nearly jumped out of my skin.
A woman around my own age had spoken to me. She was definitely Swedish, I’m pretty sure we had never been introduced, I don’t think I had imagined her voice… what whackery was this?
Knight in Shining Armor Girl smiled, like, a real smile, teeth and everything, and explained that instead of lining up physically, in Sweden you take a ticket from a machine with a number on it, and when your number is called, you go up to the counter. Who knew?
This is where I start to sound like a crazy person again, because, I don’t know, for some reason at that very second in the presence of the first Swede (other than my Swede) who has smiled at me in a month and a half, I hit my limit for not knowing really basic and obvious things about life, and I… burst into tears. Shining Armor Girl understandably looked startled, so I forced a smile, muttered an apology and ran out the store.
Staring straight ahead through tears, I marched up the street, determined to get home and under the covers until the Viking came home to cuddle me, when Shining Armor Girl caught up to me and asked if I was okay. She kind of blurted out that she had lived in New York for a couple of years and the first few months were so lonely she thought she would scream. Maybe I’ve become a little Swedified, because I was a little startled by a stranger not only talking to me but launching right into personal stuff in the street in the first 30 seconds, but at the same time, I felt a kindred spirit – hell, a kind spirit – reaching out. We exchanged numbers.
Is it possible I made a friend in Stockholm?!!