22 July, 2011

Swedish Manners

Yesterday I discovered how rude some Swedes can be. Don't get me wrong, friends, most of the Swedish people I have met have been wonderful and polite, and willing to speak English to me... but there are some social differences I just can't not tell you about.
All of them happened in this one particular second hand shop, and after that, I noticed these mannerisms for the rest of the day.

First - I was standing, staring happily at a row of used shoes which were all lined up in rainbow colors. I went to grab a pair of shoes, and I feel like I'm being hugged... I assume it's my husband, but to my great surprise, when I looked to my left, he was standing there gesticulating that I should move. A woman was trying to squeeze her way past me without saying a single word. No "excuse me" (in any language), no tap on the shoulder, nothing! I was in shock and awe!
She just continued on her way as if nothing had happened, after I moved, to stare at the shoes next to me, to my right.
After I recovered, I continued looking at shoes, and after a few seconds, there she was again, almost bumping into me to reach across me (!!!!) to get a pair of shoes on my left. Blah! I excused myself and went behind her to a clothes rack. 
This clothes rack was one of those round ones that spin, so you can move it instead of having to walk around. I was the only one near it, so I started looking through the shirts that were hanging there (also in rainbow order... my favorite). I had just gotten to the whites, and found a group of shirts I was particularly interested in looking at slowly, when a different woman appeared at the other side of the rack. 
Now, I beleive it is common courtesy at this point to silently acknowledge each other and continue looking at the rack by walking around it, rather than spinning it. At least, that's how I was taught.
This lady was not raised this way. She started turning the rack. I wasn't finished looking, so I sorta held onto the bar so it couldn't turn long enough for me to select the shirt I wanted to see. I figured I'd just grab a couple shirts to look at since she was going to be a rude-butt and turn the rack anyway - but she became irate and scolded me in Swedish, then yanked the rack so she could look at the area I was looking at. 
I thought it might be a misunderstanding, so I stuck around to look through more shirts, hoping she would just turn the rack slowly... no dice. She whirled that thing like a top, and there was nothing I could do but walk away. 

Later, after she had left, I found a shirt I liked (in the greens) and went to stand in line to try it on. 
The line and fitting rooms, ladies and gentlemen, was right next to the mens' suits and ties. I'm standing there pondering a paisley tie, when who should shove me out of the way to look at the jackets? The shirt-rack lady!!! 
I seriously resisted decking her at this point.

After we made our purchases, and went into other shops to look around, I noticed the same types of manners at other shops with different people. Squeezing by without apology or excuse, reaching across to get what they want... it's so weird!!!

Maybe I need to read this book.

Anyway... manners aside, I still love Sweden. 
They have nice salespeople.

I went into a shop selling underwear, lingerie, and swimwear, and inquired if they have my size. I always ask nowadays, to save myself the trouble of looking fruitlessly... The lady asked my size... I said 48 (European sizes). She took one look at me and said, "You're no forty-eight." which threw me for a loop. I couldn't tell if she meant I should look at bigger sizes or smaller ones, but she offered to bring me something that would flatter my shape to try on.
When she brought me a black swimsuit, she said that I didn't need to be wearing an unflattering 48. She said that I was a size 40 (God bless her) and that this suit (and others she brought with her) were built specifically for my body shape. Top-heavy.

I tried on this swimsuit and my heart fluttered. It was truly the perfect suit. It was modest up top, with proper support, and flattering below without making me look strange shaped, or accentuating any of the flubbery parts... absolutely perfect.
I bought it.

I can now go swimming and feel confident despite my worries about my size. Hooray!!! I feel pretty and everyone agreed that it is the perfect swimsuit. Maybe I'll work up the nerve to post a photo... but that is most certainly to come at a later date.


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