In America I was, in my younger days, prone to a touch of road rage. Wasting large chunks of your life in Los Angeles and New York City traffic will do that to you.
In Sweden I tend towards niceness rage. So when the entire subway car is ignoring my toddler who is going seat to seat trying to start a conversation, I have to restrain myself from running over, grabbing people by the shoulders and screaming, “Smile at my kid, damnit!”
Then the sun came out yesterday, metaphorically speaking. We took a trip north of Stockholm, to Marma, a tiny village by a big river. NK and I wandered over to a dock, and two older men rounded the corner. I cringed, NK said hello … and the men beamed! And talked to her for more than a minute, asking questions and making jokes.
OK, old men and women do tend to be nicer here.
Then we met a woman on a trail, and E asked her for directions. And she was nice! And she smiled at NK! Then the woman at the grill/kiosk was nice too! Nothing special, but nice!
I felt confused, disoriented. We were in the country – different than Stockholm, for sure – but this was extreme niceness.
Then a young woman on the train home stopped in front of me as I saved seats, holding the baby. As I prepared to fend her off with my best fake ninja moves, she repeated herself, “No. I said, “How cute!” and she cooed. Cooed. Yes. In Sweden.
Then a slightly strange but extremely patient man read NK a book and showed her pictures of frogs and birds from his laptop for the last half the train ride.
I think there were more, actually. More nice people. But I can’t remember (It is 6:30 in the morning, and I have been up with two kids for almost two hours at this point — ahhh, life with small children).
And that is the most amazing thing at all. Too much niceness to remember.
A good day.