Sunday, January 04, 2015

Shhhh… It’s Rush Hour in Stockholm

It’s been a busy few weeks here in Sweden. Girlfriend visiting. Family visiting. Travels up and down the country. Trains and boats and cars. And of course, lots and lots of public transportation.

The week before Christmas I was out with some folks on a Friday night. We headed home at around midnight. Not really a wild night, but this was the first Friday night in Stockholm for AJR so I warned her that it might be a bit wild. Friday and Saturday night seems to be the acceptable time to yell, sing, vomit, and generally harass people while on the subway. Especially at Slussen, which is where we were. But we were met by a relatively calm scene. There were some hipsters. And some bros. And some drunks. But mostly it was calm. I was a bit disappointed. I know, that’s weird and probably horrible to say, but I was hoping for a shit show to point to and say see, look at these silly drunken Swedes. Aren’t they embarrassing? But alas.

I tell you all this not because it was a story without a point. It was. And is. But because I’ve grown used to warning visitors about wild Swedes on a Friday night (just see rule #11 of the Ten Rules for the Stockholm Subway). Especially visitors who have grown accustomed to riding the subway during the week when all is well and good. That wellness and goodness came to a head on a Wednesday night during rush hour—17.39 to be exact. People are heading home. There are no seats to be had. There are professionals leaving work and parents picking up children and dogs. All of the things are happening. But they are happening in silence. So much silence that I made a video. Enjoy about 30 seconds of rush hour on the Stockholm subway system. Feel free to crank up the volume. You might need it:

Welcome to Sweden. And rush hour. Silent, silent rush hour.


  1. Yeah, it's much quieter on the subway trains, than when I arrived 12.5 years ago. Then, everyone had a mobilfon, blabbing away at any volume which they apparently didn't think about, mostly yelling "Vad Sa Du?" (What say you?) because there was so much ambient noise from the others yelling the same thing. I had a vision of sitting in one of the 16 seats in a pod, with all other 15 seats occupied by blabbers on their 'fones, when everyone yells simultaneously "VAD SA DU?" It never happened, and then 'smart phones' replaced the talkfones, with everybody's eyes glued to a viewscreen, or their fingers texting away like blue blazes. Now nobody talks on the subway. It's rather peaceful, except for the panhandlers between rush hours, and the execrable musicians wanting payment for assaulting our nervous systems.

    Gotta love the subway system, in any case. First time in my adult life I haven't owned a car. It's great.

    1. Oooh... I like that point, never thought of it. The shift from mobile phones that we actually used as phones to mobile phones we used as computers. Very cool!