Tuesday, October 18, 2022

Back to Life

Finished off our Scandinavian Swing with two more days in Copenhagen, where we visited the graves of Hans Christian Andersen (1805-1875) and Soren Kierkegaard (1813-1855) in the Assistens Cemetery before going on a spending spree at the flagship Royal Copenhagen store. (Gifts/souvenirs galore!)

It was an eye-opening trip -- so this is what a country with a social safety net that isn’t bent on controlling your every move looks like? -- immediately driven home by our grim return to NYC, where we were barked at some seven times merely going through customs and getting on mass transit. I have no logistical way to move to Denmark et al. But for the life of me I cannot understand why Damian and I could spend two weeks in unfamiliar foreign countries and never once get snapped at, but have to be constantly micromanaged by everyone we come in contact with in our hometown. Forgive me while I come back down to earth. 😩😩😩


RN said...

I'm a Canadian living in Germany now. I now refuse to fly to/transit at the United States unless I absolutely have to because of the colostomy bag that is border control there.

I've also experienced what you described, being micromanaged. The irony is that the US shouts the loudest about it's freedom, but the inhabitants don't often realize how controlled they are by peer-discipline.

Nonetheless, I'm so happy you got to do this trip. Sounds both beautiful and personally rewarding!

Jack said...

Sorry that your glorious trip ended with you being bitched at by some mall cop. Ugh. I've never experienced that with US customs, but I haven't gone abroad in seven years.

Edgar_Carpenter said...

I spent a month in Guadalajara, Mexico in the early 1980s. When I got home to San Francisco (that was before I moved to NYC) I was shocked by the air of violence in the streets - aggression between people, the way people walked downtown, the way people drove. It was just unpleasant and surprising, when contrasted with the peacefulness of Guadalajara that I'd gotten used to.

Now things have changed in Mexico, and it's less peaceful - there are incidents of gang violence even here in Guadalajara, where I now live. But it's still more peaceful in many ways than the USA. And less rule-driven. There are more fully armed police in the streets here - but they usually smile and say good morning or good afternoon when I pass, since I say good morning or good afternoon to them. Mexican drivers are more patient with each other, Mexican pedestrians work together to get where they're going, and people are generally decent to each other. It's a cooperative society, rather than an every-man-for-himself society. And while it's far from perfect, and has its fair share of rogues, I'm happy to be here rather than in the USA right now.

An incident that seems to exemplify some of the best of Mexico to me happened in Oaxaca several years ago. It was raining, dusk, the sidewalks were packed with people heading home after work, and I was in the middle of it - then suddenly, at a corner, I slipped and fell backwards. I'd barely hit the ground when I felt hands under my arms on both sides and people in the passing crowd lifted me up, set me back on my feet and then - they just kept going. No drama, no fuss, just automatic help for the person who'd fallen. I didn't see who did it, it was too quick, and they didn't bother to stop to be thanked. I checked my wallet (I'd lived in NYC for a long time at that point) - everything was still in my pockets. The whole thing couldn't have taken more than three or four seconds.

I hope the USA gets out of the mess its in without needing a benevolent dictator to restore some sense and honesty to the public sphere. For me, I'm just glad I've found a safe haven in my old age. I hope you guys can find a good place to retire to, too.