Israel Stories

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

The Queue

The plane came to a safe stop and the usual round of applause emanated from the seats around me. Way before the safety belt sign had been turned off everybody around me was up on their feet opening the overhead compartments and talking on their mobile phones.

For once none of this annoyed me. In fact it amazed me. You see the people around me were mainly blonde, blue eyed Nordic types and the plane had just landed in Sweden.

So I got to thinking, are we really so different from the outside world. I mean if it’s good for the Swedes it must be good for us. They ignore the basics of in-flight safety, we do as well. They chat incessantly on their mobile phones not able to wait a few seconds longer and so do we.

That hazy naivety soon wore off as I saw the well ordered Scandinavian society obeying the rules of the road, being polite and ever helpful, making that special effort to please and always smiling.

But we have blonde blue eyed Israelis surely a throwback to some time in the distant past when we lived side by side with the Swedes, but history had the upper hand and shattered my illusions because as with every European country and beyond, Sweden burned its Jews.

Still it’s a pretty country, boring, but pretty.

I decided to do some souvenir shopping. After wading through the shops selling hats and scarves, wooden horses and gnomes, I found a beautiful little shop in the old town and waited in line to pay.

Now in this shop there were two lines, one very long and the other much shorter. Standing at the back of the long line I considered moving to the shorter one, but them wondered, why isn’t everyone else moving lines?

I decided to take the bull by the horns and switched lines, much to the disapproval of everyone else in the shop.

Awaiting arrest, I ignored the disgruntled people who regretted not plucking up the courage to move lines, when a woman switched lines and stood behind me.

Again, the sound of murmuring. I turned and smiled at, what turned out to be a typical Nordic beauty, even had her hair braided, not that I was paying that much attention or to the fact that despite the minus 3 temperature she still wore a very revealing top, not that I was paying attention or worried she would suffer from exposure.

She smiled at me, easy tiger, I thought. I wanted to talk to her but remembering the wedding ring, the kids and my happy life, decided to err on the side of caution and smiled politely back, that smile you give to a schnorer who comes collecting when you only have three shekels in your wallet, the sort of I really want to help but cant, smile.

She asked me how long I had been in Stockholm. She had seen my camera and figured me for a tourist. “Just two days”, I answered, “here on business.” “Tell me”, I continued, “what’s the deal with the queues?” “Well”, she smiled, “ in Sweden once your in a line you stay there but I’m a bit of rebel and I have been out the country for a while, been traveling seen new places new cultures, and I am fed up with this institutional behavior.”

“Where have you been?”

You guessed it…………….


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