Friday, September 30, 2011

My parents don't want me to tell embarrassing stories about them on the internet.  They also don't want me to have tattoos.  Can't always get what you want, mom and dad!  I remember being told this as a child approximately a billion times.  It really sunk in!  Good parenting!  Lesson learned.

Day one:  my parents arrived in Helsinki on Friday morning, and they were both a little wonky from getting practically zero sleep on the plane.  But, because they are good sports and because they are eager to spend time with their son, they insisted that we go out and about.

To their credit, they lasted almost a full three hours without doing anything that would be funny to describe on this blog.  If someone had been following me around after I got off the plane in Helsinki, waiting for me to do or say something stupid so they could put it on the internet, I don't think I would have made it so far.  Jet lag is no joke.  The sun is up, but your brain refuses to believe that it's time to be awake.  You look around and wonder how all these people are doing it, walking around and staying awake when CLEARLY it is time to be asleep and feeling like each passing minute you are inching closer to irreversible insanity.  Or maybe that's just how I experienced it.

Anyway, it was not even three hours before my dad was shoplifting.  Haha no, I kid.  In Helsinki, as in many European cities, you have to pay for your plastic grocery sacks individually.  You take them from the pile at the front of the register and put them on the conveyor belt with the rest of your purchases.  Dad didn't know this, so he put his Coke Zero and his Kleenex into a plastic bag and walked out of that store like he just didn't give a shit.  Which he didn't, because he didn't know that he was supposed to.  I like to think the store clerks watched him walk out and were like "Damn, I bet he also crosses the street when it says 'Don't Walk' but no cars are coming, which I as a Finnish person would never do.  That American in the Kansas City hat is truly bad ass."  What's even cooler is that he probably told them "Kiitoksia paljon!" before he raised up out of there with their property, because he learned several phrases in Finnish before he came, because that's how he rolls.

My mom didn't pull off anything quite so bold, but this is probably due at least in part to the head cold she came down with immediately before departing the United States.  The only thing she did that was funny was use her bus pass incorrectly.  It's a little RFID card that you hold up next to the scanner, and at the same time you push a number that says which zone you're trying to go to.  It was mildly humorous when mom waved the bus pass around way too far away from the scanner, like she was maybe trying to cast a spell on it.  ("You will TRANSPORT me, machine, for I COMMAND IT.")

But I can't really give either of them TOO much grief about either of these things.  The grocery store can be really tricky.  Once I brought a thing of broccoli up to the register without weighing it.  I thought I didn't need to, because it was individually wrapped and had a barcode on it.  The cashier just held it up and gave me a dead-eyed stare, as if to say "seriously dude?" then went and weighed it himself because it would clearly be faster than to have the idiot standing in front of him do it.  Also when I first got to college I rode the bus clear to the opposite side of campus without realizing that the reason it wasn't stopping was because you have to ring the bell, because the bus driver apparently can't read minds.  So those stories, plus the fact that last week on this blog I told about how I barfed in public, make me feel not so bad about putting their foibles on the internet.


  1. To make up for my plastic bag incident I have purposely gone out of my way to speak more Finnish to people who obviously speak Finnish as their native language. Unfortunately when I mumble some word in Finnish they assume I can understand all they will say and they begin to speak to me more rapidly and in much more complicated Finnish (which means using words more advanced than "hi," "thank you, and "bye"). At that point I look even more stupid than before and can be easily forgiven for such conduct as shoplifting plastic bags. In effect, I am trading Finnish plastic bags for a bit of entertainment...

  2. ...AND the bags were at the END of the conveyor NOT near the register SO my Kroger-like behavior just kicked in.