I think Political Correctness has made deceivers and liars out of everyone. We now politely judge no one with a smile, while thinking, “I can’t believe that fat bastard just ordered three ‘Whoppers’ with cheese, a # 5 and a Slurpee.”
If you’re a world traveler, there are things you can’t help but notice in people. For example, physical traits, temperaments, tardiness, etc. Although I keep my distance from people, they do fascinate me upon observation. I’ve been that way since I was a kid.
I mentioned that on the Silja ship, the band plays on the promenade as the passengers stroll in. You see everyone and they see you. I’m not on a stage, I’m on the floor, so people literally walk by me. Unlike Stockholm, I found that trying to get Finnish folks to smile is a hell of a lot of work, usually in vain. Particularly the women.
I was beginning to take this personally, but as I got to know a few of the shop clerks who are Finnish btw, they informed me that that’s “What we Finns are like.” “We have to get to know you...” They mentioned that because it’s usually cold and cloudy, that lack of sun makes them... Finnish. :) Hmmm. Well if that’s the case, I’d never knock on an Eskimo’s igloo and ask to borrow some sugar. Vitamin D is a required supplement in Finland. One of the clerks recommended a book, “Xenophobes Guide To The Finns”. That should be a good read. :)
I was chatting with a gentleman who was born in Finland but was raised in Stockholm. He recalled as a kid, returning to Finland only to ask his parents if someone had died. “Why do you ask...” “Everybody looks like a casket exploded.”
There was this one ship worker who cleans the promenade. I’ve crossed her path a few times. She always had this blank look on her face. I decided to say hello. “Hi you.” “She looked at me with that blank look, said “ Hi hi” and proceeded with her work. She had an assuming presence and well... I wouldn’t describe her as pretty. But I was determined to try to get her to open up. We met in the mess on day, just the two of us were there. I’m not sure what I said, maybe it was, ”Hey baaaaby you shoooo rock the dust mop.” And behold, she smiled and she became unquestionably pretty. She proceeded to ask me questions, I was totally unprepared. Down in the mess I never sit with the acquaintances I’ve made. I figure they want and need their few moments of food and relaxation. I didn’t want to take up much of her time, but she kept talking. I was actually grateful. I measure a friendship by people who actually talk ‘to and with’ you.
Now that was a sense of accomplishment. Shockingly, the next time I saw her, I had to start from scratch. I was so confused. “Hi, remember me, we were in the mess. We sort of talked...”. Blank look.
There’s much more to say on the subject, but I’ll talk about that later.
Once again, observing people, it was hard not to notice a woman in a striking black dress with gold lacings and a rather large bottom. She sat near the band and was clearly enjoying the music. During a break I sat next to her and said, ”Well look at you. What pretty a dress.” She didn’t speak English, but she understood what I had said. I suppose her lack of English might have been a good thing.
The next day, I thought I saw her again. Same dress, and that large bottom. But it wasn’t her.
Hmmmm. A couple of days passed and BEHOLD two different ladies with the same dress and rather large bottoms. What are the chances? I later learned that that is the attire of the Finnish Gypsies. The dresses are like small petticoats. Yes. We live and learn.