F U Finland!
I have never been so ashamed of my heritage.
We moved to Canada when I was only 4 years old. My Mom has always been very social and pretty much the opposite of traditional Finns. I think most of the people that move AWAY from Finland are of that ilk: don’t fit into the insular mold. I admire my parents for looking outward, for exploring the world and seeing that there’s more to life than just being Finnish. Being Finnish has been a two-edged sword for me. I’ve been at once proud and ashamed. Proud of their lifestyle, health, school system. Ashamed of their anti-socialness, pride, rudeness.
“Customer Service” is not a recognized thing in Finland. They don’t even have a word for “please”. It’s not “please may I have some more?”, it’s “give me some more.” Grunt.
My own Mother told me that she has always been embarrassed by the Finnish people’s poor manners, and would read English books at the airport for fear that others would know she was Finnish! She wanted to be approachable and friendly to others, not viewed as “one of those Finns” who treated strangers like dirt. She was ashamed of her kind.
Today, I am 100% ashamed.
We were invited to a friend’s home in a nearby suburb for a relaxed lunch and playtime with her dog. She told us to catch bus #1 in front of the church and ask the driver to let us off at the City Market bus stop. She would meet us at the red windmill across the street. Great! We waited for the bus at the assigned stop, along with 7 or 8 others. When the bus came, everyone lined up as normal. I held my kids back. They asked why, and I told them that we needed to ask the bus driver some things, and I didn’t want to hold people up. We would require the bus driver’s attention for a few minutes, and it was polite to let everyone else on first. So Canadian.
When our turn came, I asked the bus driver (in Finnish!) if children had to pay. “Under 5 doesn’t have to pay.” was the answer. Okay, so two kids and one adult to Turvanen please. “7 euros.” I told him we don’t know the area, can you just stop at the right stop because I won’t know when to press the buzzer. “If I remember.” was his curt reply.
Ummm. What? IF you remember?? Seriously?? There were about 10 other people on the bus. You can’t remember that this woman with two small children wanted to get off at the City Market? Really? Do you really have THAT MUCH on your mind that you can’t remember that the people PAYING for your service ask for ONE simple thing?? Huh.
Yet, ever the optimist, I had faith. I believed that MAYBE he was just in a snit. Maybe he was just outwardly snarky. Maybe he would do his job despite his obvious disdain.
Nope. Twenty minutes later my phone rings and my friend says “hey, I just saw the bus go by – didn’t the driver let you off??”
At that moment the driver pulls into the bus depot, stands up, and yells back to us “Oh, you didn’t get off at City Market?”
I said “did we pass it already?”
He says “yes, but your tickets are still good, just go over there and catch the next bus back.”
I ushered the kids off the bus and we stood there in the middle of the parking lot. I said to my friend on the phone “I can’t believe he didn’t tell us when to get off! I mean, who DOES that?!”
The driver got his fat ass off the bus, walked over and said “there’s the bus stop, you can catch the other bus there.”
By then I was so infuriated that I stuck up my hand and said “I’ve got this!” in the most disgusted voice I could muster without ripping his fucking throat open.
He could probably tell that I was pissed. But he didn’t give a flying fuck. It’s not his job to be nice (obviously), it’s his job to drive the bus from point A to point B. Well done, bus driver. Well done.
Let’s contrast this with the Vancouver bus driver who, when asked for directions by Syrian refugees, veered from her route and drove them directly to where they needed to be!
Fuck You, Finland.
Proud to be Canadian!!!