on queuing

in finland you queue to get out of the store, even though you didn't buy anything...

if there’s something finns are good at, it’s queuing. i have this little game i always play with myself at airports abroad… i call it finding the gate and the rule is pretty simple; find the flight to helsinki without checking the gate number. it never fails. you just stroll around* and look for the gate where there’s a queue but no personnel letting people onboard yet. bingo!

yesterday when i landed at helsinki-vantaa i once again wondered what the heck i was doing back. to me, it never feels like returning home. the depression falls over me like fog every time. this particular time it was due to it being really hard getting out of the terminal. i think half of helsinki was returning from somewhere and no-one was going to move an inch to let someone else pass by. you can say sorry! pardon! förlåt! ANTEEEKSI! how many times you like and they simply won’t move.  having spent the day in sunny brussels, eating fresh strawberries dipped in white chocolate i tried to remain zen but when i finally got out into the chilly night air and realised the reason for people not moving i almost lost it. it was the taxi queue… seeing as i didn’t have a choice if i wanted to get home at all, i had to return in, almost all the way to customs.**

to make it even better two fat (really. one was huge and the other bigger..) finns found it appropriate to appoint themselves guardians of the queue and god help anyone who tried to bend their rules. one poor foreigner wasn’t educated in finnish customs enough, i almost felt like asking him to join me just because he looked so frightened when these two idiots stood there yelling at him (in finnish of course, the normal behaviour when it comes to these people is that if you yell saatana vittu perkele a bit louder, anyone will understand)…

fortunately the queue moved pretty fast and finally at home, half an hour later, i found myself thinking the only thing i will really miss when i move away from finland is my shower. but then i remembered the plumbing at gerby, surviving all the years there, and concluded that as long as i stay in europe me and my ginger curls will survive. somehow.

*or run if you’re late, that’s actually how i started the game, i was really late for a flight and just ran until i noticed an abnormal queue and had a look out the window and saw the finnair logo…

** don’t get me wrong – i quietly try to form a one-woman-queue myself when in a store or bar abroad, that is a finnish trait i can’t seem to get rid of, but the “don’t you even dare to take one step in the wrong direction”-atmosphere that often hangs over these finnish queues can be quite disagreeable


  1. Miguel · · Reply

    “A recent survey showed an English person averages a total of four days a year standing in a queue. George Mikes, the Hungarian-born British writer summed up the traditional view when he observed: ‘An Englishman, even if he is alone, forms an orderly queue of one’.”

    1. haha, that’s what i’m saying – i always try to form a one-woman-queue even if i’m alone 😀 love it!

  2. Miguel · · Reply

    Drinking tea, forming queues, used to English plumbing…. you’re half way to London already!!

    1. yes. i was caught using the word “jolly” on saturday and had a very hard time explaining that i actually do not live in london. at least not yet… a bit baffled though – i mean, a few months ago i was all mika häkkinen when i spoke english.. dunno what happened.

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