Hidden somewhere at Gerby, beneath endless layers of building dust and broken teenage dreams, you will find a few pictures and a very special newspaper article from the summer of 1996.
Here in Finland, when you are in ninth grade (last grade of our compulsory school), you are supposed to find yourself work during two school-weeks. The thought behind it is to familiarise you with grown-up life basically. I think one hidden agenda is to make you want to stay in school a few more years actually…
Anyway, being a year ahead (I had skipped first grade), I had not even turned 15 when I had to start thinking about where to apply. After agonising for a while, I finally mustered up the courage to walk into the local paper, specifically directly into the office of the editor-in-chief. Being a bit late, he told me they had already agreed to hire two of my classmates.. Bugger!
However, after thinking about it for a day or two, they decided to take me on. I’m not sure why exactly, but that’s not my dilemma to ponder upon. Either way, it turned out pretty well. I stayed on as a freelance for three years.
And so it happened that I got a call that summer between elementary and upper secondary school. The question was if I was free the coming Thursday evening, and if so, if I could go and do an interview with Teemu Selänne, who was to join for a local charity football match a few miles from where I lived. Yeah, sure, no prob, when’s the deadline?
I can’t remember telling my parents about this, but I have a feeling my mum might have needed a cigarette. She’s always had a bit of a soft spot for Teemu.
After settling from the shock, it was a good thing she accompanied me, as Selänne’s bodyguards didn’t at first believe I was the designated local reporter. Can’t really blame them, half the county was there, screaming like maniacs when he landed in a helicopter. I was mostly concerned about the fact I had to speak Finnish.
In the end, I got a few words with the man himself, and I met the deadline.
And if you dig deep enough at Gerby, you will find a few glossy pictures of the biggest hockey star Finland’s ever had, his arm around an anything-but-photogenic fifteen year old girl with ugly glasses and even uglier 90’s clothes.
I’m a bit sad I missed the game yesterday.