It is Saturday morning, about a half day since I landed at Dulles to conclude my visit to Norway, so those among you who upbraid me for "leaving me (you) hanging" don't level that charge. On the whole, a good trip. Met a lot of wonderful, intelligent, and increasingly nervous people (see Russia, immigration). Did a little sightseeing, a little work, and watched the first two seasons of Game of Thrones (where the hell have I been?)
A few closers?
1. I posted about this on Facebook the other night, but it is worth sharing here. The last night there (Thursday), I ambled down to my favorite little authentic Norwegian restaurant to swallow down a portion of reindeer before leaving. When I arrived, it was pretty crowded, and I was told there were no tables available. No problem, I said. How long is the wait. The first waiter I spoke to looked at me like I had ten heads. "How can I know this?" he said. I did a double take and asked again, "can you estimate how long the wait is?" He answered, "how will I know how long people will stay?" At this point his colleague joined him, and they exchanged a few words in some Scandinavian tongue (the Norwegians told me all the Swedes have the waiter jobs, because the waiter salaries are so good and the oil-fattened Norwegians don't wish to do service economy jobs) and the colleague said, "may I help you?" I answered yes, that I would go put my name on a list and go do a little shopping while I waited if I could be given an estimate of how long that would take. She then adopted the same line. "How do we know how long these people will be here?" At this point, I realized I was up against a cultural norm, and so I decided to have a little fun with it. "How long has this restaurant been here?" I asked. She answered "ninety years". My answer was then "ninety years of experience with people occupying tables, perhaps?" And with a big smile, I walked away. Yes, some of this is cultural, that Euro's like to linger over meals--which is something I wholeheartedly support. But some of it is also the lack of a "tip" culture. Waiters are paid a generous minimum wage (at least) in Norway, and they make very little from tips (the practice is to round up). Therefore, table turnover matters to the waitstaff very, very little. I like our system better.
2. There is a special place in the seventh ring of hell for the people who use the back of the airline seat in front of them as an anchor point as they lift themselves out of their seats, only to allow it an elastic snap-back for the person sitting in front of them. The cretin behind me did this several times during the trip home yesterday, so at one point as I proceeded aft to the loo (with most of the people around him sleeping, including him) I gave his seatback a mighty tug and let it fly. I felt like a WWII Norwegian saboteur.
3. Lots of angst among the Norwegian intelligentsia with whom I consorted over the past few days about immigration. Much praise for the Poles (they live in our neighborhoods, learn our language), little nice to say about other cultures who are not learning the language and are gathering in clusters.
Lots of things here at the Farm to get on with, plus another blog post to write, so that's all for now.