the day swedes got nice

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.


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