The only way to get rid of temptation is to yield to it.”
Dear Oscar. Shut up. You’ve never lived in Denmark. Therefore, you have no idea what temptation is.
But I’ll tell you: temptation is when shops abandon in the streets their food, flowers, clothes, tools and furniture, so anyone can steal it. Temptation is a bike without a lock.
A paradise for thieves
Denmark is a paradise for thieves, and yet, a country of almost irreproachable citizens. I don’t see any Danish miracles in flexicurity, but I definitely find them in supermarkets. Their wide open doors. The absence of guards.
Where I come from, every shop is like a high-security prison. We have surveillance everywhere: scans, RFID tags, cameras, aggressive warnings, angry guys at the exit. I’ve never seen unsupervised goods. If you leave two rolls of toilet paper outside a shop, they will be stolen in five minutes. At best.
Even worse: in France, we tend to blame the victim and ask questions like why don’t you have rottweilers protecting your house? Same with rape: what were you wearing?
It’s a terrible culture, and I love walking around in Copenhagen where I can see flowers, chairs and even antiques, left in total confidence. I also love to see sexy girls, partying late, without fear. It makes me proud for Denmark, proud to be here. And it’s a sign of a well-functioning society.
Like Xmas morning at 5am
The problem is: am I a well-functioning person? Well. I’m challenged. I’m a greedy child waking up on a Christmas morning. I could have everything. Steal everything! Eat everything! I could walk out of a cocktail bar without paying – without even running. I rarely see cops – where are the police, and why don’t they arrest me? If they could read my thoughts, I would write this column from jail.
And if this is some kind of test, where is my graduation ceremony? Where is my funny hat and the party bus loaded with beers? Hey … am I actually getting no reward for being a good citizen?
I’ve never stolen anything in my life. I certainly don’t intend to start just because it’s suddenly possible, but temptation still makes me feel like a terrible human being. My values are slack. I’m working on it. And at times … I fail.
I blame the coffee
So here is my confession. I sometimes ‘borrow’ a few newspapers from this one shop, because they’re so expensive compared to France. I then go and have a coffee and carefully read my loot – paying attention not to damage the pages. When I am done, I return the newspapers to the shop, putting them nicely back, exactly how I found them.
I have never been caught. It might change after this article, or I might feel bad enough to never indulge again. Couldn’t I read the news online, or at the public library? Of course I could. But the coffee wouldn’t be as good.
I love good coffee. Does it make me unworthy of Denmark? I plead guilty and ask for mercy.