Friday, April 18, 2008

A Swedish American in America


In the early dusk hours of Wednesday the 16th of April, as the sunlight began shimmering on E-4 I made a daring and unsuspected escape from Sweden to the US. I was assisted in my flight by BGC who arranged for a morning flight and DCP who assisted in my drive to Arlanda. (The trains don’t leave early enough, so she got up and rode with me so she could drive the car back. She does good work. That's why I like her.)

The flight went without incident, and following my trip to Spain that’s damn impressive. I watched three movies on the flight, finished one book, one magazine, put a good chunk into another book and another magazine and probably said three words to the girl I sat next to. She had breath so bad I could smell it even when she was turned towards the window. I know it’s mean but that’s just not something I want to deal with for 10 hours on a plane trip so I chose to embrace my Swedishness and not speak to her.

At around 16.00 I made a triumphant return to US soil. By 18.00 I had made my way back to the family. And the surprised screaming and crying of my ever aging mother. She’s turning 50 tomorrow. And had no idea I was coming. I’m very sneaky like that. As is CBCC, who made a triumphant return to Colorado soil last night, again to the surprise of my aging mother. Did I mention she is almost 50? That’s halfway to 100.

Anyway, here I am back home. And what did I do in my first full day in the US of A? Went to the big box stores of course. What better way to embrace Americana then to visit Borders, PetsMart (PetSmart?), Home Depot, and the biggest box of all – Wal-Mart. Which was full of fat people (of course I was there because I needed peanut butter and oatmeal cream pies so I probably don’t have much room to talk). I believe that Wal-Mart is someone’s sociological PhD dissertation waiting to happen. It is amazing in every sense of the word. And for so many different reasons. And whatever your views of Wal-Mart, because globally and hippy-ly Wal-Mart tends to be frowned upon, it is so very different from anything that can be found in Sweden that it needs to be experienced.

Walking in to Wal-Mart, NBC and I were met by a somewhat large woman yelling at her 5 year old “Damn it, don’t play on that” then waddling over to presumably mete out some sort of corporal punishment. And I laughed. Then went in and was reminded that it was all worth it. Because I found peanut butter for 5 dollars. And 2 bottles of contact solution for 6 (you’ll remember that I paid nearly 100 SEK for one bottle of the stuff just a while ago). And that’s hard to beat, which is exactly why I shop there. I have no morals when it comes to inexpensive consumer goods.

Aside from diving head first back into the American shopping culture in search of cheap goods the trip has been spent doing not a damn thing. And it’s been glorious.


  1. Welcome home! I agree with you about Walmart I literally feel dirty when I am forced to go into one due to my need for Plywood, toothpaste, and staples, or some other such random assortment of goods.

    What about Costco? I am in love with Costco, please tell me there is a Swedish equivalent? Or, dare my heart to hope, Costco itself?

  2. Yay! Welcome Home! You're only like 2 states away! I feel closer to you already. You should probably just stay ;)

  3. I've done quite a bit of shopping in Walmart lately. I noticed 2 things: one, as you, was how fat the patrons are. The other, was how cheerful they looked. The high-end shoppes of Boulder are filled with people whose consciousness that they are part of the in-crowd does not over-crow their essential misery.

  4. Sounds like you're absolutely enjoying yourself!

    I love it like that too when I go back home to Singapore.


  5. The Wal-Mart comment cracked me up... It is convenient though, but Target is a little classier. Yes there is a Swedish equivalent to Costco, it's called Martin Olsson's, and there's a bunch of similar giant all-in-one box stores in Sweden, such as Co-Op (previously called OBS!) but I have to admit that there is something about Wal-Mart.

    I loved your observation about Swedes riding the train, people really are uptight, and that was one of the reasons why I decided to leave. I love America!!!!

    I’m originally from Stockholm Sweden, but have lived in the US for 12 years now, in Boston, Northern California, and currently in LA (that’s my entire adult life)
    Check this website out; it might have some helpful info:

  6. I hate even going into Walmart. Something about all the obnoxious large people there makes me nervous, almost.

    Home Depot's boring!

  7. love the blog.

    i'm an american, wishing to live in sweden (if not permanently, for an extended period of time).

    is there anyway I could contact you? it's like im pursuing the opposite of your situation, sort of.

  8. HS - the US of A welcomes you. Ohio salutes you (when we're not busy patting ourselves on the back thanks to LeBron).

  9. Hairy
    Next time you are at borders be sure to check out GQ with Robert Downey Jr on the front.
    on page 70 is a page about sweden and all of the cultural influences that Sweden is producing!

  10. Hairy--do you think perhaps your fun on your trip to Spain is somehow linked to your ability to read and interpret an itinerary? Glad you didn't miss your flight.

  11. @john s - unfortunately the closest I have found is willys. and its not very close

    @chase - I was closer. but Ill be back. and you better be in Colorado by then.

    @simon - perhaps low prices are the opiate of the masses.

    @cheryl - something about going home, wherever home is, is always nice.

    @tommy - good advice all around. Im going to have to check out the stores you suggested.

    @raina - just think of the bargains. and home depot is nice sometimes. although only when Im feeling very gardnerry or carpenterry

    @c - just shoot me an email

    @carolyn - thank you. and LeBron is doing god work isn't he?

    @travis - I was just at Borders... if only i had known. any word on if the article is online?

    @john - unfortunately the Spain adventures blame will stick with Micke Forslund from desk 71 at SAS. Althought I must question my itinerary reading ability.

    hope the plants grow nicely.

  12. the ever aging mother could have a heart attack if you surprise her for her next 50 year celebration!
    Very lucky ever aging mother will never forget the wonderful surprise and the best birthday ever!

  13. hell by that time I might have a heart attack. I'd be 74.