Friday, January 07, 2011

Work Ethic

A lot could be said about the Danish work ethic.

Things like:
What ethic?
I've never met such a lazy group of drunken sods in my life!
Danes work smarter, not longer.
Family is more important that work.
Danes are extremely hard working and industrious.

I've heard them all.  I've said a number of them.  I've doubted the sanity of some of the people who have said others.

My own experiences with the Danish work ethic have been, well, mixed.

There are the paper pushers who sit at a desk for 3 hours every other Tuesday who look shocked and appalled if you ask them to do something so awful as GOD FOBID look something up on their little computer screens because their job is too look things up for people on computer screens and WHY THEY HELL ARE YOU ASKING THEM TO DO THEIR JOB??

There's the team of painters that came to paint our apartment building who showed up at 8, had a coffee break until 9, painted until 10 when it was beer-and-cigarettes break time (yes, beer, Danes do often drink on the job), started again at 11, broke for lunch at 12 (more beer), started up again at 1:30 and then went home at 3, after having one last beer and cigarette break.

There's the mechanic who opens his doors at 6 in the morning and doesn't close up until after 7 at night.  You can drop your car off in the morning for it's tune up and pick it up after work.  He's cheap, efficient, accurate, and at 23, very ambitious.

There are the pharmacists who are either open or on call, day or night, so when you have an anxiety attack at 3 in the morning and you need your Xanax NOWRIGHTNOWNONOTWHENTHEYOPENATTENRIGHTFREAKINGNOW, you ring them and someone will throw on a robe and fill that prescription for you.  (This does not apply to all pharmacists - you have the best luck in very small towns or very large cities, if you live in a mid-sized city, you probably have good reason to be anxious, so enjoy your demons until opening hours, m'kay?)

But by and large Danes believe that if you go into work earlier, you go home earlier and therefore you have more time to be with your family.

(I call bullshit on this one, by the way.  Because by getting up earlier to go to work earlier you are also going to bed earlier and your net time with the family is still the same whether you start work at 8 or horror of horrors, 9 am.  Do the math, folks.  And stop asking me to be somewhere at 8!)

At some point this "getting to work early" seems to have gotten out of hand.

The mason who is doing some patchwork on the house we are renting arrived yesterday at 6:30.  In. The. Morning.

Six FREAKING thirty.

Do you know when my alarm was set for?  Eight.  8!  Because I don't need to be at Danish class until 9.  In the morning.  When decent people go to work.  When the sun has actually risen.  Right now it's the dark times, the time when the sun doesn't rise until after 8 and sets before 4.  So this means that the mason has no light.  Except he does.  He brings his own flood lights.


This isn't the first time the mason has shown up at some ungodly hour.  Last time the DB had to throw on a robe and run downstairs because he thought burglars were trying to get in through the window.  The mason was surprised that my husband wasn't dressed.  The DB said, "???" which translates to "I'm very sorry, sir, but we are neither farmers nor ranchers nor sheepherders.  We have no earthly reason to be up and dressed before the sun rises.  My wife, for example, when she does not have to be up for school, tends to sleep until 10 and then wanders about for a while in her pajamas.  You are just lucky that we're still pregnant because if this were to happen in a few months and you WAKE THE BABY I cannot be held responsible for the actions of my wife.  She's an American, you see.  They tend to be violent."

Alas the mason doesn't speak Tired Confused Husband, which is probably why he came yesterday AT THAT UNGODLY HOUR.

Only the joke was on him.  We didn't know he was coming and because it had snowed, we'd closed and locked the back door.  And since it was Trash Thursday, we thought the flashing lights and the banging noises were from the garbage man.  So we stayed in bed and the mason had to wait in his truck until we got up, showered, and then came down for breakfast.  HA HA!  I WIN!


  1. To "be" with their families, huh? As in letting them go on facebook all evening for the teens and shoving them in front of Ramasjang for the littly ones?
    Everyone in this country is suffering separation anxiety, man.

    I like it when I get told off for working too hard and making my colleagues look bad but the Ministry of Integration will be pleased to know that this has not happened in several months.

  2. Anonymous5:23 PM

    re: those stupid o'clock early starts the DK tradesmen like to do (WANKERS), they know what they are doing you know. They are sick fucks, to be sure. They know they are disturbing people and that they are only thinking of themselves. They work 7-3 at the latest. Fortunately they will probably let you pay them in cash which means you won't have to pay for their MOMS and they get the cash in their pocket for their sunbeds and sausages.

    All of our tradesmen appointments, we stipulate, (Hearing the narky echo of "That's right, has to be YOUR way!" from P's teaparty when the pics were being taken LOL) nothing before 8am, and even that is being generous.

    The right time for a tradesman to call is 9am. Anything before that is too intimate and BAD FORM!

    'babs' ('tits' in Danish LOL!)

  3. This post had me crying! Thanks for the giggles. You do have to be careful about those violent Americans!

  4. We have a car mechanic who works six days a week. He even works weekends and until 18:00 on weekdays. His name is Ali :-)


Keep it clean, don't be mean....