Under the Raydar | In expat years, I'm a fossil
For reasons only he knows, the editor of this newspaper has decided to give me a column. Probably because I was not in the room when he yelled out: “Hey, I need a column, who wants to write one?"
Caught in nuclear fallout
I know the exact moment he asked because I was getting coffee down the hall and the other journalists ran out of the newsroom like it was the scene of a nuclear meltdown.
I guess I am somewhat qualified to write about Denmark from an expat perspective because I have been here a while. Twentyish years now … I’m a lifer.
I am not some candy-assed, just-got-here-last-month expat on a lucrative three-year contract with Maersk or something. I’ve been here since before DSB made announcements in English. It was so long ago that there were, blissfully, no smartphones. If I got lost, delayed or drunk, I was forced to rely on indecipherable and usually broken pay phones to call someone to rescue me. In those days, a certain part of the population found it the height of hilarity to rip the cord from the body of a pay phone and leave it dangling uselessly from the phone itself. Man, that was hilarious at 3am.
Back in Ray's day, this sign was written in runes (Photo: Colourbox)
Not here to hate
What I will not do in this column is constantly hate on all things Danish. There are enough expats doing that job daily, so there are no positions open.
I came to Denmark carrying an old Martin guitar, doing the troubadour bit at the ubiquitous Irish, English, Scottish and other quaintly-incorrectly themed pubs. I have hung my feet on a thousand dirty bar rails and listened to endless barstool geniuses explain – out of the earshot of their Danish wives or girlfriends, of course – how deeply this country sucks.
Hard to avoid the vitriol
I had never experienced such vitriol about a place someone chose, apparently voluntarily, to live ... until I started writing for this newspaper.
I could write a story about how a paraplegic Dane discovered a cure for cancer while simultaneously rescuing babies from a burning building and, before the electronic ink was dry, one of our loyal commenters would check in with the requisite: “Danes suck. Denmark sucks. They murder giraffes, the supermarkets are disgusting and the police are a joke."
Every story. Every time. No matter if the comments have nothing to do with the story itself, they just have to vent, so I will leave them to it.
A nice lot outside Borgen
Meanwhile, I liked at least one Dane well enough to marry her and have contributed DNA to two half-breeds, so, two million or so renditions of ‘Whiskey in the Jar’ later, I like most Danish folks just fine.
So what if they get on trains like lemmings trying to squeeze into a Metallica concert – that does not make them inherently evil. Just kinda dumb ... for EVER listening to Metallica.
Rest assured, however, that the government, hospitals and myriad of other tin-horned little dictatorships are fair game.
Not that I pretend to understand the Danish government. Coming from the US, a country with mostly just two, equally shitty, political parties, I am baffled by the 427 or so that Denmark seems to have, with new ones springing up every day.
Soon there will be a separate party for each expat to bitch about, and won’t that be grand?