Friday, October 15, 2010
In Finland these things take a while longer than they do in Ireland. Which is good, because otherwise I wouldn't have had a hope in hell of making it home in time for the funeral. I mean, here they seem to bury you before you're gone cold, where as back home it's usually a week, sometimes even more before the burial.
There's loads to organise and I wonder whether that's just to keep the immediate family occupied. I dreaded going into work on Thursday, but frankly I was delighted once I got there. First of all, I was once again reminded of how lovely my work mates really are. And second of all, I was able to keep myself busy, and keep out of my head. And those around me have truly kept me in great spirits, and for that a heartfelt thanks to all of them, even though I doubt many of them are reading this blog but I'm going to put it out there regardless.
So I fly home on Wednesday, funeral is on Thursday and I fly back on Sunday. That gives me few days to touch base with my family, and to be there for my mum.
A few words about my grandfather. He was 87 and he fought in the second World War. Him and my grandmother got divorced when they realised they were much happier apart. My grandfather had "girlfriends", fair play to the man, and on one memorable Christmas he lamented on the fact how his relationship with his special lady friend had turned platonic since his doctor had forbidden him from taking Viagra on account of his pacemaker. He was 83 years of age at the time. He was complaining only last month that there weren't any women in the nursing home where he was so well looked after until the very end. He said he didn't like being cooped up with "these old men". He was the second oldest resident at the time, only being beaten by a man of 89 years of age.
He was always well groomed, his hair styled and plenty of aftershave on. He was a great dancer, and loved telling stories. He lived for his children (5), his grandchildren (9) and great-grandchildren (9) and never failed to hammer home the importance of a good education, something he never had but which never stopped him from getting places in his working life. He always spoke of the importance of having a mate, a companion in life. He believed nobody should be alone, and that there was someone out there for everyone. He hated smoking and smokers, but never voiced his opinion in the presence of a smoker. He was a hard worker and never turned down a neighbour, friend or family member in need. He was my grandad.
The photo below was taken on his 85th birthday, and the lady with him is a lovely woman who was his "special companion" for 16 years.
Thursday, October 7, 2010
Wednesday, October 6, 2010
We’re all told how important it is to have good manners; say “please” and “thank you”, smile, ask how the other person is, not to offend anyone, etc. But I have actually begun to wonder whether or not it’s always the best thing to do. I mean, there’s good manners and then there’s being a door mat?
I used to be terrible at complaining at restaurants. I remember sifting through soup which resembled baby food in texture, and out of date milk in flavour. I didn’t want to draw attention to myself or to our table in this small, intimate restaurant. I was sure the horrid soup was an one-off incident and felt that I shouldn’t make a big deal out of it. I know now I should’ve sent it back seeing as it was my money that I was spending on what I was expecting to be nice, tasty food.
If somebody bumps into me on the street, I always turn to apologise even when it isn’t my fault. I know it’s not my fault but I do it anyway. Why, I’m not entirely sure. Probably for the same reason I’d clean my house before a cleaner got in to make it easier for them to get to work. Same method in the madness drove me to clean my car before getting in professionally valeted and to do my hair before going to the hairdresser in case she thought I wasn’t looking after her creation well enough.
Yesterday I sat at my hairdresser’s chatting away when she asked me if wanted tea or coffee. Now anybody who knows me, knows that I truly love my coffee. My coffee maker at home is one of the ones which grinds the beans at the press of a button making the coffee so beautifully fresh it makes me wonder how I ever drank filter coffee. I don’t even recognise instant coffee as being coffee. So, when asked, I of course asked for coffee. I was presented with a mug of brown water with a drop of milk in it. I dutifully said “thank you” and took a sip. It was vile. Did I say something? No, of course not. That would’ve been rude. Or would it?
All this is utterly ridiculous, I know. But I’m not the only one doing it. I’ve seen it happen so many times in so many different places it really got me thinking, who do we think we’re doing a favour to by carrying on like this? How many women will walk out of their hairdresser of 8 years sporting a look they don’t like just because they don’t want to offend someone they’ve known for so long? It’s hardly going to be beneficial to you, walking around looking like something out of the 80’s, and certainly not beneficial to the hairdresser because everyone is going to wonder who did that to you and you are going to tell. That happened to a friend of mine who wore hats for a week and then changed her hairdresser to one who actually listened to her.
I have mended my ways since the soup incident. If I’m paying for something, I do want it to be the way I like it. There’s always the problem of overstepping the line and landing all the way across to the land of the obnoxious, but let’s not go there. Having worked in the hospitality industry I can tell The Moaner a mile away. The one who will, without a fail, find something to complain about. It’s usually the price, or size, or temperature of the food. I met a Moaner once who complained her soup wasn’t hot enough. I heated it up to a boiling point, brought it back to her and had her turn around and complain that now it was too hot to eat. What can I say? You wouldn’t have problems like that with salad.
Lack of manners can be just as irritating as having too much manners. Asking for something without adding “please” to the end of the sentence sounds rude. I find it quite fascinating how fast I adopted frowning upon people who don’t say “please” considering how my native tongue doesn’t even have a corresponding word. We have 48 for “hangover”, though. Us Finns, hilarious. Being met by the Americanisms such as “Lemme have the...”, “Gimme the...” and “I’m gonna have the...” makes me cringe. There’s no excuse for not being polite, especially if you’re speaking the same language. Some faux pas’ can be forgiven because there is a language barrier. “Please” barked at you in a German accent is going to sound aggressive no matter how much you try. I German friend of mine, a lovely, pleasant and polite young man still says “I will have...” rather than “I would like to have...”. Unless I’m there to correct him, obviously.
I think I’m done now...Thank you for reading. Do pop by again soon. Please.
Tuesday, October 5, 2010
I don't really have a great track record when it comes to rental cars. Not driving them, but driving behind them. Especially around these parts where the roads are built for 1.5 cars rather than 2, or 2 cars with half an inch between them, and overtaking or meeting other cars requires a hearty mixture of self-confidence, bravery and prayer to whatever higher power you happen to rely on.