Saturday, December 13, 2008

Rudity in the Art Museum in Stockholm

Nationalmuseum is the art history museum of Sweden. All kinds of paintings, a few sculptures, some furniture and design stuff; the museum really runs the gamut.

There is currently an exhibition going on called Lura Ögat, Trick the Eye basically. An exhibition which I went to with a couple of friends recently. One a Swede, the other a tweener European/American. And it is well worth it. Lots of cool art that is meant to, yup, trick the eye. It runs until the 11th of January I believe, and I definitely recommend it.

Having walked up the daunting stairs to the top floor where the exhibition was being held, a friend of mine stopped to hold the door open for some people. And by some people I mean nine. And I know there were nine people because I counted them after they had passed through.

Now normally, counting how many people walk through the door isn’t something I do. I don’t walk around with a little clicker in my pocket or keep stats on that sort of thing. But this time I did. And I did it because out of those nine people, not a single one said thank you. In fact, not a single one looked over, nor acknowledged the, what I took to be, friendly and helpful action.

It blew my mind. All of these people were adults. I would have been willing to give a kid a pass. Sometimes they forget their manners. Sometimes they are just excited to get out of a museum. But nine adults passing through a door. One of them should have said thank you.

I’ve noticed this before, mostly because I am a door holder. But usually just one or two people fail to say thank you. Not a huge deal. Kind of rude, but it’s something I can handle. But nine people was just kind of disgusting.

I walked through the door, thanked her, and obviously commented. She had noticed as well. The sad thing was that my friend said that having been in Sweden has made her kind of just accept the rudeness.

So it goes, but instead of wallowing in the rudity (it sounds like a real word at least) of Sweden, the three of us ended up going to get some glögg and pepparkakor. Which is used to celebrate the Christmas season. And also used to make everyone warm and happy.

So Welcome to Sweden. And happy Santa Lucia. And please tell me the rudity was an aberration.

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  1. Holding doors rarely pays off in Sweden, LOL! Just go with the flow, man!

  2. You might be right, but it's nothing that I (born and raised in Stockholm) notice. But it might be as you say, that you stop thinking about it after a while. But it's quite rude not to say thank you.
    But I heard somewhere that we in the swedish language use "thank you" more then anywhere on the globe. Even though that might not be true it feels like it highly unlikely that a rumour like that would come from nothing.

  3. I would have been furious, and would have felt taken advantage of. I do see similar behaviors in San Francisco (proper).

    Maybe it's a big city attitude, because I don't recall such behaviors from the parts of Sweden where I grew up. I recall Stockholmers being pretty rude and impatient even back then.

  4. @smek - I suppose. but seriously. nine people.

    @anonymous - agreed.

    and thats kind of interesting about saying thank you. Maybe its just using thank you in certain situations and holding doors isnt one of those.

    @eklandisk - I really do hope it was just a big city thing.

    but to be perfectly fair, I don't know if they were all swedes or not mostly because none of them said anything which would have allowed me to get some idea as to what language they spoke. so Im not sure if they were Stockholmers.

  5. well at least they didn't hold the subway door open. Thank God. :)

  6. it's true, what ay be considered rude for one door is essential for another.

  7. If they were foreigners, maybe they assumed your friend was part of the staff, paid to hold the door for them?? Anyway, it is proper to acknowledge a courtesy no matter how small, and someone who doesn't know the language can always smile or nod.

    That said, I feel the need to amend you previous comment with the observation that courtesy requires not just a thank you, but also "taking" the door from the person who held it for you, relieving them of the "duty" to keep holding it.

    Unless the person holding the door looks like they really don't mind holding it (perhaps having nothing else to do while waiting for a friend who is still inside), it is seriously rude to just walk through even with a thank you, because you're treating them like your servant.

    Etiquette demands only that you make sure you don't drop the door in the face of the person behind you. As soon as you see them reaching out to catch it, you can let go. Same thing if the person behind doesn't look like they are about to follow through the door soon, or at all.

    Greetings from the new self-proclaimed etiquette expert (*grin*).

    Ribbings efterträdare :-P

  8. Slight editing snafu:

    "That said, I feel the need to amend my previous comment"

    And I meant to mention I'm a notorious door-holder too.

  9. Swedes are rude compared to other nationalities. Never realised til I moved abroad, but now I always get so pissed off when I go home to the motherland. Service in shops and restaurants are crap, you rarely get a hello and often they don't seem interested in helping you even when you ask them. People that you know, but aren't friends with, tend to avoid you or pretend that they don't see you instead of just saying hello when you run into them on the street. I HATE IT!

  10. Ive definitly noticed that. but many swedes argue that they prefer that and feel that friendliness like you might see in the US is fake and doesn't do anyone any good.

    I don't agree with them. I love friendliness and service.

  11. I think the perceived rude behavior can be linked to an idea that no communication is to be had between strangers in these settings. That it's more proper to stay silent and not invade the person's privacy than to thank him/her.

    Then there's the fact that stockholmers are a rude kind. What else to expect?

  12. I suppose. But I just have a hard time thniking that anyone would believe saying thank you to be an invasion of privacy. but maybe.

    maybe it really is the stockholmers.