See… the beauty of being a foreigner in a certain country is that you can pretend you don’t speak the language.
I’m called by telemarketeers at least 4 times a week. Sure, I can have my phone number put on a list so that I’m not called anymore, but that will cut me off from ALL stuff. Also the interesting stuff, so I don’t want to do that.
So every time I’m called by a Finnish telemarketeer, I first listen who they are and whom they represent. When it’s not interesting enough, I go “Umm… I’m sorry, but do you speak English?”.
In 95% of the cases it’s quiet for a few seconds and then I hear “Click…” and then the busy tone. So that means they don’t speak English 😀
4% of the cases are the brave ones who try to explain in English, but don’t manage and after four or five sentences of stuttering admit that their English is not good enough, apologize and ask if they can have someone call me back who does speak English. To which I heartily agree, because they never do anyway. But anyway… Kudos to that 4% who tries and admits they can’t handle it.
And then there’s the 1% who actually does speak English well enough to explain what they’re selling. And them I tell nicely and politely that I’m not interested.
Today was weird. I was driving downtown when my phone rang. Caller ID “unknown” it said on my phone, which instantly puts me on guard. Anyone who doesn’t want to be ID’ed is suspicious.
Anyway… I pick up and I hear in a very bad English accent “Hello, this is [insert name here] from the investment company [insert company name here] in Hong Kong.”
And I’m thinking “Hong Kong?? What the…??”
And I go in Finnish “Um, I’m sorry, but do you speak Finnish?”
It’s quiet for a few seconds and she goes “Do you speak English?”
And I go in very bad exaggeratingly slow English “Exkjoos mii, Aj no spiiik Inklisj! Doo joo spiiik Finnisj?”
It’s quiet for another few seconds, and then “Click…” and the busy tone.
And just fall in a terrible laughing fit…
It’s funny how people can change when store sales come up.
Twice a year Finland’s biggest warehouse Stockmann has big sales called Hullut Päivät, Crazy Days. And really, that’s exactly what they are: crazy days.
When I first came to Finland a good number of years ago, I went to see what the fuzz was all about. I read through the sales catalogue and found a cheap flight ticket to Amsterdam. So I went, waited at the entrance and was amazed and amused by all the people.
Never in my wildest dreams had I thought to encounter this.
The otherwise so nice Finns, private, but nice, turned into the complete opposite. Sweet old grandmas turned into vicious little monsters. I’m not exaggerating. I’ve seen them fight, literally!, over pieces of clothing. Totally out of control.
I had to be on the fifth floor for my flight ticket. The doors opened at 08.00am, I was on the fifth floor by 08.04am (I did understand that I had to make haste with getting to where I had to be), I took a number from the machine and it read 178. So in the four minutes that it took me to get upstairs 177 people had managed to get upstairs ahead of me. Imagine that.
After that I swore to steer well clear of this madness.
Until now… There was an offer in this year’s catalogue which tempted me to put my life in the hands of this insane mad crowd again.
And so six years after my first experience, at 07.50am I scurried towards the entrance.
At about 07.50am there were already some 150 people waiting at the entrance
I got this scary sense of déjà-vu… But I took courage and put myself amongst the crowd waiting.
And a few minutes before 08.00am…
Rows and rows of people, at least 600, waiting for the doors to open
I’m not exaggerating. In the 10 minutes that I waited for the doors to open, the amount of people added up to about 600. In rows and rows pushed against the doors. The trams had trouble passing, because the people just stood everywhere.
And then came 08.00am. If I wouldn’t have been in the crowd trying to survive and stay alive, I swear would’ve wet myself, it was THAT hilarious. The doors opened and people really elbowed their way inside. Imagine those sweet old ladies and sophisticated business women and men pushing each other over, and RUNNING, not walking, but sprinting into the store to get to the elevators first so they’d be on their floor as fast as possible.
We’re supposed to be a civilized species. With brains. But come discount time, come sales time, we just turn into a bunch of neanderthales and if it hadn’t been this hilarious it would’ve been pathetic. Or should I just put that the other way around? If it hadn’t been this pathetic it would’ve been hilarious.
The thing that I wanted wasn’t all that popular, so I was pretty much in clear waters. But no more Crazy Days for me for a couple of years. Unless it’s from a distance to shoot pictures of people who make complete idiots out of themselves.