On the eve of my departure from Norway I thought it'd be fitting to vent a little bit about my people and our occasional obliviousness. I hope you all will forgive me, although I'm pretty sure that most of you reading this, if you're from Norway, will recognize yourselves or someone you know.
Without further ado, here is my list of things Norwegian people need to get better at.
1. "Excuse my Norwegian arms"
During a meal, if someone is talking, it's OK to politely ask them to pass you the salt shaker or what-have-you, even if you temporarily interrupt the story they're telling. Norwegians have not gotten this memo, however, as we will instead stand up, and stretch across the dinner table to grab whatever it is that we need. Apparently this is so common that it has it's own tongue-in-cheek description: "Please excuse my Norwegian arms."
Lets stop doing this. It makes us look meek and too afraid to politely ask for something we need, although everyone understands that this is in fact OK to do.
2. Learn How To Stand In Line
If you're ever in Norway and find yourself using public transport, don't expect the locals to form an orderly line to get on the bus/metro/train. Instead, they will congregate in a disorganized mess around the entrance like a herd of goddamn cows, without making room for the people who first need to exit. I constantly see people shoving themselves onto the bus without waiting for everyone else to exit. It's as if they cannot fathom that waiting an extra 10 seconds to let everyone off the bus first will actually speed up the proceedings. Don't be selfish. This leads me to my third point...
3. Give Up Your Seat for People Who Need It!
While riding on public transportation you'll constantly see young and able-bodied people pretending to ignore the elderly people around them who might need to sit down (at least more than you, you 26-year old hipster goof.) Don't be an inconsiderate butthole.
Whenever I'm on the bus and I see someone who might need my seat more than I do, I make a point of giving it to them in a conspicuous fashion so that hopefully others around me will take notice.
In fact, we're shitty in general at helping others in public. My own brother has actually forced his way through a crowded aisle on the bus from the very back row of seats to help a young mother carry her baby stroller off the bus, even though other people were standing right next to her and did nothing to help.
4. Don't Shuffle Around Like a Zombie in the Grocery Store
Another place where my people seemingly shut off the part of their brains that's responsible for paying attention to their surroundings, is the grocery store. We will aimlessly, slowly wander the aisles lost and without a clue as to what we're doing there.
While I don't blame you for taking your sweet time to buy that delicious frozen pizza, at least you can make an effort to not block the aisle for those of us who like to complete our grocery shopping in less than a damn hour.
Just today I was reprimanded by a family member for almost losing my shit at the grocery store. We had just gotten a shopping cart and entered through the turnstiles to the store and the two ladies in front of us just....stopped. Just stood there with their cart, confused, as if they had just woken up from a coma, not knowing where they were. While I wanted to yell at the top of my lungs for them to get the hell out of my way, all I could do was grip the handle of my cart and start shaking it violently while biting my tongue, because I realize it's bad form to verbally assault strangers for no (apparent) good reason.
My point is this: Please pay attention to your surroundings. You might have all the time in the world for running your errands but that doesn't mean others should have to be stuck behind your indecisiveness. Pretty please with sugar on top, just MOVE!
5. Its Okay to Say 'Excuse Me' If You Need to Get By
I have actually had people just push themselves into me or some of my friends in public without saying a word, when they needed to get by. If you don't know, this is generally considered more rude than saying "Excuse me" and waiting an extra second for me to hear you and move the hell out of the way. Even when they have physically forced themselves past you they won't make eye contact and say "Pardon me." Don't be so goddamn afraid of talking to strangers! They're not dangerous (unless they have facial tattoos. Just find another way around those people).
So let's stop being so afraid of talking to strangers, taking up space in public, stepping on people's toes (figuratively speaking), or just being nice and considerate to people. I'll be gone for at least six months, so I trust the rest of Norway will have this all figured out by the time I return. Thanks.