Today as I wandered about Södermalm I decided that I might be a bad person. And it happened after having run into no less than four people asking me for money. And I refused them all. Lied to them even.
It seems that today was prime time for the charities to come out and save the world. By asking for money. Now, for the most part, I am a sucker for a good cause. But I just don’t like being pressured into a good cause. Because pressure is just no fun when wandering around Stockholm on a sunny day.
And in my wanderings today I felt a lot of pressure. As I walked between Slussen and Medborgarplatsen I was approached by both Save the Children and some sort of brain saving place. All youngish people, probably my age, probably very idealistic and hoping to save the world one donation at a time. A noble thought.
And I lied to them. Because they start talking to me in Swedish. So I put on a blank face and tell them that, in fact, I do not speak Swedish. Now I know how the game goes, even if I don’t speak Swedish I might have a Swedish bank account. And if I have a Swedish bank account I can donate money.
So when the brain girl I ran into asked me if I had a Swedish bank account, after having established that I didn’t speak Swedish, I looked her dead in the eye and said “no.” It was only as I walked away that it may have seemed strange that I did not ask why she wanted to know if I had a Swedish bank account. For the most part, that’s not a common question to be asked by a stranger on the streets.
So I made a mental note and continued on. This time Save the Children came up to me. Nice guy really. Again, blank face, “sorry, I don’t speak Swedish,” but he let me go and told me to enjoy my time in Stockholm.
After having had to lie to two people I was getting a guilty conscience. So I decided to walk down the middle of the street. Since the foot traffic was relatively heavy in the street and the clipboards were hanging out on the sidewalk I was able to avoid them. It worked like a charm.
Until I got to Medborgarplatsen. They are sneaky there. One guy established my English and told me to enjoy my vacation. But following this friendly fellow I was approached by a young girl. Maybe 16. She seemed desperate for my help. Again, I played the foreigner. But that didn’t stop her; she kept going, with longing in her eyes. The kind of longing that says, damn it mister there are starving children in Africa and I need your money. The kind of longing that judges you just a little bit. The kind of longing that says this wasn’t exactly what she signed up for when she decided to save the world. She really wanted my money. So much pressure. But I have a cold heart. And ice in my veins. So I continued on with my English speaking charade and moved along.
With just a few feet to go before I hit my station I ran into one more person. And once my feigned lack of Swedish was established it turned out this fellow was also persistent. Minus the longing in his eyes. He asked me if I had a Swedish bank account. I said no, and remembering my mental note asked him why. Which he answered by explaining Save the Children to me. And he suggested I look into their organization in the US. And so, without further ado, and in a blatant attempt to clear my conscience, here is a link to Save the Children in the United States and in Sweden.
No pressure. I promise.
Welcome to Sweden.