Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Humans I Work With

After being on a farm for a week and driving down endless country dirt roads, the town of Jyväskylä, about 30 miles north of where I'm staying, seems like a veritable metropolis.  By Finnish standards it basically IS a veritable metropolis, since any town over 50,000 people in Finland is more or less gigantic.  Jyväskylä has about 130,000.

The first things that have struck me here is that there are people whose skin is not blindingly white and that you have to pay to go to the bathroom.  One euro.  You actually have to pay.  For the past week I have been peeing in fields 98% of the time so this is a little bit annoying.

It is nice that there are immigrants here.  In Finland there aren't nearly as many as in other Scandinavian countries (in Norway you can go to any town, no matter how big and no matter how in the middle of nowhere it is, and there will always be at least a few people from the Gambia or Liberia or some other faraway place).

But enough about Jyväskylä and the commerce I'm currently enjoying.  Today I'd like to describe the people I work with on a daily basis, since people are the only thing that ever really matter anyway.


The boss.  The patriarch.  Answers his phone "Ari Seppälä" barely in a whisper and then talks progressively louder as the conversation goes on.  I regard him with a mixture of respect and unbridled terror.  He is one of the hardest working people I have ever met, but a TINY TINY part of me suspects that this is only because he doesn't want to be dealing with his family all day and just wants his "me" time.  The other night at dinner Marja (his wife) said she thought Helsinki had the best engineering school in the country and Ari said, "You have no idea what you're talking about".  He can be a little rough around the edges but also joke around and be kind, too.


The real boss, and I say that because apparently she has the final word in everything and because Ari sometimes refers to her as "the boss".  She is wonderfully kind and somewhat reserved but for a Finn she is basically as outgoing as they come.  Last night after dinner we had about a twenty minute conversation in which she explained to me how she doesn't get along well with all of her sisters, especially after she urged one of them to divorce her husband.  Come to think of it Finns are generally pretty reserved but can casually say things that most Americans might consider kind of private.  The first day I got here Ari casually brought into the conversation the relationship he had growing up with his dad (apparently it was more like two friends living together than father son) after we had only known each other about an hour.  But anyway, Marja is wonderful and cooks a mean perch stew.

The Kids

Ako, Virti and Peppi.  I have exhanged maybe 15 words with all three of them combined.  They're so used to having strange people in the house they don't really care who you are.  And I get the feeling they resent a little bit having to compete with strangers for their parents' attention.  But I could be reading into this.


At first I liked her, now I more or less despise her.  She's blunt and has the sense of humor of a bag of tacks.  Irina is the other WWOOFer and she's from Russia.  You only need to know three things about her: 1) She doesn't use toilet paper because she "spent some time in India".  2) She won't kill the wasps that fly into her room and harass her every morning because she "doesn't like to kill things".  And 3) She uses a wood-burning stove even though there's a perfectly good electric range right next to it that takes about 1/15th of the time to use.  And she says the word "porridge" about 100 times every morning.  At first we got along swimmingly (sort of) but now we barely speak.


I still have no idea how to spell this guy's name.  He's from Latvia and he's been working on the farm off and on for five years making 7 euros an hour.  Ari said at one point that Finns won't do this work and now I understand why -- it pays horribly.  Madders is a great guy and I love him to death but he's also horribly racist and I'm having a hard time dealing with it.  He's said some fairly offensive things and I fear that we might have a confrontation in the near future, but also get the impression he knows I'm not ok with some of the things he says and maybe avoids the subject.  All that aside, yesterday we packed honey together for about three hours and listened to the radio and (I) sang and it was a great time.

I better go now though.  I'm at the tourist office and there's a girl who I think's waiting for the computer.

Hei hei!


1 comment:

  1. So happy you are back.