Sunday, May 19, 2013

Work Environment "Ethics" and Swedish "fear"




It's a cloudy sunday afternoon and I'm drinking a cup of English Breakfast and watching Grey's Anatomy (re-runs are the best)...and I started thinking about my job..

I have worked at a sunglass store now since October of last year, I work pretty much full time and before April we had two stores, one in a much bigger mall near the centre of the city, and one in a mall on Östermalm, in the city, but not as central. These are two completely different "kinds" of shopping malls, and the people who work there are also completely different. In the bigger mall the employees all had a sense of community, at least within all the stores closest to yours. We had a juice bar, a phone store, and a cafe next to us and the maintenace workers always walked around us. Everyone said hello in the morning and got to know each other, everyone knew each other by first name. The security Guards would come by and make sure no weirdo's had been by and kept an eye on the store if we asked them too.


Anyways, from my opinion everyone who worked there were more willing to be social and friendly to other employees where as here in the other mall, people barely say hello to one another, and if you do they find it very strange and act as if they've never seen you before. And maybe they haven't seen me in my little sunglass corner, but I'm here everyday and if they are a little like me they've spent their lazy days watching other people work harder than you do! So whats the difference? Why is one mall more polite than others? There's no "rule" from the owners that you have to be nice obviously, but I do think it has something to do with the fact that in the smaller mall most people are swedish, and in the bigger people are more international and have different backgrounds. 


What is it with Swedish people and their fear of others? I guess its our cold country thats chilled our souls? Maybe its from our ancestors being alone in this big cold country, they're used to not meeting people and thats somehow passed on to us? Swede's aren't meant to live in cities? It's too bad really, I enjoyed saying hello to everyone who passed. I wouldn't call it friendships but a casual "busy day today huh?" while taking the elevator down to the lunch room is much better than awkwardly bumping into each other by the staff toilets without a word... 
I'm thinking of changing it, the security guards are more friendly and I'm going to start saying hello to everyone in the mornings, hopefully in a few months people won't be so surprised and they'll recognize me.


It's so funny to me that there are so many "customs" in Sweden that no one talks about, but everyone knows they're there. So, Here's "How to be Swedish 101"

-make sure you avoid people at all costs, and if you happen to bump into someone, pretend you didn't

-if you see someone who you kind of know, met a few times but you're not sure where? Don't make eye contact. If you do, you'll have to say hello and, who would want that?

-"Excuse me" isn't in the swedish vocabulary, it may be some sort of made up term from "abroad" that we can't quite understand,

-so if you do bump into someone and you can't ignore them, just say "oj" and walk away

-Be rude to all restaurant, hotel, or store employees as they will be just as rude to you.


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