July 2002

July 28, 2002

The strange twilight of a store just before closing

I was at the downtown S-market just before it closed tonight. It was weird. One guy started piling up Valio’s pre-sliced red label Emmental cheese packages as I walked by. He stared at me as I walked by and just kept on piling the packages. He took every last one. Read more


July 27, 2002

Bomb threats don’t affect the cleaners

Yesterday, at 13.15, the captain announced over the intercom: “Dear passengers, there has been a bomb threat. Please remain calm and we will keep you informed as the situation develops.”

I continued vacuuming the eighth floor lobby.


July 25, 2002

Mess duty, again

There were girls underpants in the clean rags basket. They seemed clean, too.

A Russian guy had his pants’ leg filled with Marianne candies yesterday.

I finished the mess decks yesterday in two hours and fifteen minutes. It looks as if I’m the new mess deck guy. Huh.


July 21, 2002

Keeping tabs on the tab-keepers

Keeping tabs on the tab-keepers. Uh, well, informing on the informants sounds better, but I had to give it try.


Cleaner is not better

Ugh. Today I got the job of cleaning the seventh floor lobby. Man, is that a lot of work. At least it was since I made the same mistake I made as when I was doing the mess deck yesterday: cleaning too well. And hence, too slow. So I pretty much bungled that job. Didn’t get fired, though, so I guess that good. Now, if I learn from my mistakes, I figure I’ll be okay.

I managed to snag thirty minutes overtime straightening up the six-oh cleaning closet, which was a total mess. Clean towel and sheet carts all over the hallway. The people working there with me knew each other and had great attitudes, and was trying to keep up with them. We managed to get off the boat before it left for Riga with only minutes to spare. I especially enjoyed meeting Aziz, a Morrocan who’s studying for his degree at TKK in cellulose technology, and Lauri, the Estonian fifth-floor group leader with one more year of school to become an auto mechanic.


July 19, 2002

Mess duty and one less new guy on the job

Cleaning cabins turned out to be much easier than doing the mess duty. Read more


First day on the job

Yesterday was my first day as a boat cleaner. What a rush. I was hung over from Axel’s birthday party the night before and the heat—it was one the hottest days of the year—took its toll as I was walking to Viking Line’s Katajannokka terminal.

Waiting for us new guys (six new workers that day, all guys) to be lead on to the boat and shown the ropes, I was surprised and pleased by sheer foreigness of the workforce. I had expected immigrants, but I had been afraid everyone would be old and depressed and unfriendly. Instead of apathy (what I’d expected to feel about the work, I suppose), I felt energized by the bustling crowd of young people speaking in Russian and French and other languages, laughing and having fun. I felt... free.

Free of “normal” social constraints and free of my own expectations of where I should be in life. This was a step sideways—or maybe a leap—and I was thrilled.

The work itself isn’t as easy as you’d think. You have to be fast and precise. Three hours of monotonous tasks requiring speed and precision makes time fly by like a worm on asphalt. And after work my ass sure let me know that it was the one doing all the heavy lifting in all the bending over involved in picking up trash and making beds.


July 14, 2002