18 May, 2011

subway rant

Warning, this post is rife with generalizations.

I have heard countless times how closed-off Swedes can be in public--in the store (don't expect to be helped by the salesperson!), in the street (don't expect a smile, much less even eye contact), on public transportation (watch out for giant swinging bags that will hit you in the head while the person passes you, and don't expect an "excuse me"). I'll admit that if Stu & I stay in Sweden through this pregnancy, I am dreading that 9th month on the tunnelbana. And I am already super sure I will never be offered a seat on a crowded bus.  But what has been bugging me lately is the inability of people in Stockholm to get ON to the subway car like considerate human beings!  Swedes are generally awesome at standing in an orderly line, or taking a number form a little box to preserve their sense of order. You see it everywhere: the pharmacy, the bank, the alcohol store, the computer parts place.  Well, almost everywhere. They don't queue for the free bus to Ikea...that is a free-for-all.

But on the subway, people stand like giant, squat buffalo directly in front of the doors before they open, totally oblivious to the fact that there are a dozen people who need to get *off* the train before they can on. They could stand a little to the right, or maybe a little to the left. Stockholm train doors stay open for a decent amount of time...they aren't going to miss it! And several of them will stand like buffalo together, making you have to elbow your way through them to get off the train. Ah, it irks the crap out of me! I don't remember the general population of subway riders in Washington DC being that difficult. Or New York, or Chicago, or San Francisco (granted, they all have their "charms", but at least there is some general common sense.)

Okay, I think I'm done now. It feels better to get that off my chest.


  1. When I lived in London I would get so angry when people did that. I would take on a full on elbows out stance, which is rude I know but made me feel better that the people blocking the entrance got a little back.

  2. Oh I know - add a stroller to that mix, and I feel like I might just roll someone over one day - only because they completely block the exit from the train and then stare at you like a deer in headlights when the doors open.

  3. I think you would definitely be justified mowing people down the stroller!

  4. Absolutely justified! The stroller thing is the worst...when no one moves to let you park the thing in the door area of the train (aka, the only place a stroller fits!) With how child-friendly this country is, you'd think they'd move for the kid, even if they'd never move for you!