suspicious of smiles in sweden

Swedes are sweet.  At least so I have been told.  Well, my wife and children are sweet, soI believe the stories.

But in public, life in Sweden is like living in a tunnel.  No eye contact, no smiles, no talk.  The Walkman and the iPod ruined nothing here.  Swedes were already in their own heads, at least in public.  As I said, they are sweet once you break through the shell.

So imagine my surprise when another father started smiling at me as I dropped off NK at daycare.  Out of nowhere.  He usually walked with a couple of other dads with older kids in daycare and toddlers in strollers.  They are the paternity leave gang of the moment.  The other two dads ignore me.

But this one started making eye contact.  Then smiling.  At not at my kid either.  Then today, I saw him walking down the street with an empty stroller as I took NK to daycare.  And he waved!  Waved!!!

To be honest, my first thought was, “What is this guy’s angle?”

I have already been in Sweden too long apparently.  For I can not come up with an angle.  Not one.  His kid does not know my kid.  He is apparently not gay.  He knows nothing of my finances or career.  He might have heard me speak English to NK.  Maybe he wants a Green Card?

Or, it is hard to believe, is he just … simply … nice?


4 thoughts on “suspicious of smiles in sweden

  1. The standard comment is that he is either: Drunk. Crazy. American. Or all of the above.

  2. Oh that is just to true! Haha! 🙂

  3. And he must have gone off the booze for Easter, for he passed me with his eyes down today. I was hurt.

  4. Maybe HE was hurt. And angry at the jerk that gave him a what’s-his-angle look when he smiled the last time? 🙂 Smiling protocol in Sweden is complicated. And it varies depending on the region and the size of city/town. Generally though, smiling at strangers risks putting the other person in an uncomfortable position. Someone smiles at you = Clearly that person knows you or recognize from somewhere. But you can’t for the life of you remember ever having met that person before…
    There are lots of exceptions to this rule, but you have to *know* them, (for the most part) they can’t be taught.

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