Boston Blatte

Raised in Boston, remade in Sweden

Archive for April, 2010

Playing the game: Sassy, cheeky, bitchy?

Thursday, April 29th, 2010

I wonder if I’m getting bitchier with age or am I [further] developing a passive-aggressive defense mechanism for dealing with service and contact people within the Swedish system. Or maybe it’s my Swedish. I don’t know but today before lunch I’ve already:

A. Walked away from a pointless discussion forcing a crocodile smile and a poorly disguised patronizing “OK” response. And

B. Employed rather cheekily (that’s a nicely borrowed British term that needs to be picked up by Americans) the same usage of “I’ve already said this a number of times” after a “helpful” (not) person said it to me when I asked for additional instructions. (I got to point out that her repeated explanation didn’t apply since I had repeated that I was past the point she was sure I was still stuck at.)

I was inwardly snickering at my sassy attitude. sassy bitch

In the case of B we ended our conversation very pleasantly which got me to reflecting on what had just happened. I was snappy and threw back her flippant remark as a challenging joust and she either took it in stride or found it merely natural development.

Am I only now learning how to play the game?

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Earth Day Sweden: Zero hits

Thursday, April 22nd, 2010

Seems that darned Eyjafjallajökull volcano Jon Stewart supposedly renamed Kevin has stolen Earth Day‘s glory. If there was any glory to be had that is. I just searched the 4 main Swedish news sites for Earth Day events in Sweden I didn’t find a one.

I did find several accounts of long sojourns home by [planes] trains and automobiles (plus boats). The oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico got some mention. Oh and of course the attack in Bangkok. There’s also some stuff about Princess Madeleine’s relationship with Jonas. madeleine jonas(For those of you not up on the Swedish Royal Family and the current gossip–Madde is the hottie younger sister of the heir apparent, Victoria. royal weddingVickan is marrying Daniel the commoner gym dude and is having her big state wedding this June causing scandal among a number of Swedes disapproving of the new non-Swedish tradition introduction of the King walking his daughter down the aisle –you get all that? I can barely keep up.)

So back to Earth day 1990 It’s the 40th anniversary of the original Earth Day and the 20th of the rejuvenated popular hackey sack bash inaugurated in Central Park (among other places in the US). I was in Central Park with all of us youthful, save-the-world-please-pass-me-a-beer revelers that day in NYC. I remember reading the next day of the tons of trash left scattered in the park and the damage done to the green areas.

So 20/40 years on, Sweden couldn’t care less about Earth Day (or so it seems). But we are affected by that darn volcano. volcano

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Posten. Delivering damaged goods.

Wednesday, April 21st, 2010

Posten’s damage reporting policy pissed me off today. Normally, I don’t rant but I just can’t get it out of my head.
damaged package
A damaged package was delivered on Friday by and the delivery guy even pointed it out to me. He scanned the package ID number and told me I needed to call Posten to report it.  I figured there couldn’t be a hurry since they already have a record by the delivery guy that the package was damaged and what they needed was instructions on how to proceed (refund v. return.) So I called  Tuesday.

Posten:  (In Swedish) Sorry, your report is overdue. We required your call the same day.

Me:  (Also in Swedish) But your delivery guy scanned the damaged package.

Posten: You either should have called us on Friday or you could have refused to accept the package.

Me: But your guy scanned it after informing me of the damage. He didn’t tell me I had to call the same day or that I could refuse it.

Posten: That’s our policy. Had it been damaged after opening you would have had a week.
Me: But I opened it with the delivery guy waiting to check if there had been damage since I wasn’t sure.

Posten: But it was reported as damaged on the outside. You’re too late. I can file a claim and they can look into it.

OK, yes, I know it’s my responsibility to “read the fine print” (I guess on their website?) but when the delivery company scans a damaged

package they pointed out I kind of figure that they have taken a report. I can understand the requirement to file the same day since the damage could have been caused during the days following…but if it’s “self-reported” the same instant it’s delivered?

Doesn’t that count for something?

Positive note: The customer service rep was extraordinarily professional in her dealing with me, the irate customer. Part of my frustration was distracted by noting that she had clearly been trained and that there is a chance for continued customer service excellence in Sweden.

The principle factor: If I lose it ain’t gonna break me. This was a cheapo shaft to a mop which cost in total 47kr+VAT. The pail was in perfect condition.

/end rant

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Natural terrorist: Air travelers hostage.

Monday, April 19th, 2010

My next door neighbor, Per, is stuck in Shanghai. He was supposed to fly home on Saturday but with most of northern Europe’s airspace shut down since Thursday, no one has been getting in or out of Sweden. Not via the major airports at least. So far on Sunday there’s been one jet, yep, ONE, which landed in Kiruna, about as north as you can get and still have more humans than reindeer in sight.

I know tens of people who have been stranded or grounded. It has kind of surprised me how many people I know (or know of) who fly in such a short time span. Everyone’s holding their breath for Monday morning when there’s a chance flights might be resumed.

In a long stretch you could say that the greatest international terrorist goes by the name of Eyjafjallajökull. Just trying to pronounce that tongue twister ought to be considered cruel and unusual punishment.volcano

This is utter turmoil and economic chaos  has got to be bin Ladin’s wet dream. I bet he’s kicking himself in his damp cave that he hadn’t come up with it.

Just post 9-11 I deliberated on whether I should attend my godson’s baptism in Switzerland. While I wasn’t afraid of flying, I was nervous about getting stranded so far from home had some military action taken place. I calmed myself by thinking that besides train and bus in the worst scenario I could walk.

My neighbor has been looking into the Trans-Siberia Railway.  While it does have a romantic overtone, I can’t think the week clanking along the rails through the tundra is a preferred travel option.

And it would still leave him stuck in Russia.trans siberia rail

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Swedish business practice: Kids rule

Tuesday, April 13th, 2010

Family shall not encroach nor blend with work related responsibilities.   Well, at least according to the ethic I was entrenched in during my formative years in Boston. It’s hard to shake that since it’s more a part of my bone marrow than a concept.

However,  it’s so refreshing that in Sweden no one faults you for having family obligations. In fact, I can sometimes see that they might go too far to accommodate you and your small people’s needs.  Professional people and clients in Sweden are so much more forgiving when you have child-related hindrances.

I’m currently at home VABbing. That’s a special Swedish acronym (to form a SwEnglish verb) from Vård Av  Barn meaning to care for children. I have a 2-year old in a 48-hour quarantine after the last vomit incident. While I’m not technically working (and even getting financial compensation for staying home) there are a few odd work-related responsibilities I need to attend to (for those of you about to get on my case for “cheating the system” please consider this on par with taking my work home with me and working during the evenings.)

A contact that I need to speak to by phone asked if we could talk today. Let’s face it; Kids have no respect for business calls.  Since my primary responsibility is care of my child I cautiously informed them that my child might interrupt the call and if that were to be a problem we could postpone until Wednesday. It conflicted with my professional ethic to refer to a child when formalizing a business agreement.

As I expected from a Swede, the contact giggled and whole-heartedly  sympathized. I would even go so far as to say it might have given me extra points.

A few years ago when the soon-to-be-3-year old was a newborn a client was very eager to meet with me knowing full well that I was on leave. Since the meeting was rather casual I agreed.  It still felt very strange to wheel in a baby pram to an office though it felt quite great that everyone from the receptionist to the CEO welcomed us as VIPs.
My 2-year old keeping her identity secret

That said, my contact hasn’t called me today. I am not surprised. I knew that her child was coming down with something and she might be home Vabbing.

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