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“The one who doesn’t remove the lint will die!” Posted by on Dec 4, 2009 in Culture

Different cultures different food. Different countries, different way of thinking. Have you ever thought about how you can contribute to your own country’s cultural life? Well, the Swedish comedian David Batra, actually has. He had collected post-its for many years, from Swedish laundry rooms (tvättstuga) all across Sweden, which later led him publishing this fantastic book called “Den som inte tar bort luddet ska dö.”

We don’t necessarily like conflicts in Sweden and we have some awkward ways to deal with them. However, everyone agrees that conflicts are bad. But the 21st century is really ours, since you don’t have to put yourself into an unpleasant situation. We have Internet, Messenger and hey! We have even the laundry room. We don’t have to deal with each other and no way can you ever find a person who left the message for you. And let’s be honest it is also cheaper than therapy. If you are an experienced one in the game you might have a post-it in your pocket when entering the laundry room. Bröderna Brothers had an old track, it went something like this: “Take my wife, take everything but damn not my washing machines”.  And now we have also a book about it.

I remember many times getting post-its without any name on them. “You have left your clothes in the dryer, when it was my turn!”or” You can’t book 3 machines at the same time, it is in the rules!”.  But somehow I never got a message like “Hey! I took your laundry time I am so sorry!”. Because we all know it is unforgiveable. It can be really irritating with planning and preparing all week for washing your clothes. And then someone took it. Besides it is one of the worst excuses foreigners can think themselves hearing from Swedes: “Oh, I am so sorry I can’t meet you tonight I have booked some washing machines”. But if you have lived in Sweden for quite some time you will have complete understanding on this matter. Nothing to joke about! And let´s face it; who buys (honey I am having a headache) anymore?!

Finally, let me introduce you a Swedish expression regarding things you shouldn’t worry about. I-landsproblem, which basically means (a tiny problem made into a huge one in the developed countries). I am collecting such problems, so if you have any examples, please let me know. Some examples:

Oh God. Not again. There is only 500 SEK bills in the cash machine.

Excuse me, but can I get a bendig straw?”

Tack för mig!


Top Ten things to get stuck in the washing machines in Sweden are:

1. Bras

2. Plastic cards (bus cards)

3. Steel nails

4. Coins

5. Barrettes

6. Screws

7. Pens

8. Lint

9. Necklace

10. Teaspoons

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  1. Stefan H:

    funny and insightful article! i once read that the reason people are harassing other people on the Internet is because they feel like they are incognito there. The same rule apparently applies to the swedish laundry room! most neighbors are polite when they meet coming and going, but get totally inhibited when it comes to cussing your neighbor on anonymous post its. go figure…

    i once heard from a holocaust surviver that he was fascinated with how swedish people could get annoyed when the bus or tram was more than a couple of minutes late. “What were they so angry about? They were alive and well! who cares if the bus is five minutes late, enjoy the outside are a little extra instead. I guess that is another i-landsproblem.

  2. Luke (Sydney):

    I could not recall if Aussies worried about anything other than that we have been exporting too much wine.

  3. tibor:

    Hi Stefan!

    Very healthy way of thinking. Isn’t it refreshing to think in that way?

  4. tibor:

    Hi Luke!

    Thank you for your comment. How come? I wonder if it’s a “common guilt thing”? 🙂

  5. Minty:

    I too am surprised at how angry people get at a bus being late by a couple of minutes. At least they run every 5 mins or so…the longest Ive had to wait for a bus so far has been 20 mins, at midnight on a friday.

    As for things I take way out of proportion…everything 😛 Not cleaning something or other being the major complaint.

    One that bugs my boyfriend is complaining about how bad waitresses are at thier jobs (having been one, it is very hard to ignore the incorrectly done things), such as picking up peoples plates before everyone at the table is finished eating.

  6. tibor:

    Hi Minty!

    Good one! 🙂 Well, in Gothenburg we have a lots of trams as you might know it and an electrical timetable that counts down til the next tram comes. Sometimes, 2 minutes can be a really long 2 minutes and then I have time to post some letters, buy some food and make a call. That´s it.

  7. cci:

    oj oj oj! hej! its part of our life in sweden…”tvättstuga”” and when it is the time, you says: i a m tired today, i cant wash now, but…net empty day it is wednesday!!!! my god, all the washing today in the bathroom…i dont know, it is a question of love hate, i like to wash, but at the same time i hate it!
    tack för den spännande blog anna!
    and tack linda also, for the comment about the blog

  8. tibor:

    Hi Ceci!

    I am glad you like the blog, even if it is not Anna who writes anymore. Hope we can fill her shoes.

    Ett stort tack!

  9. Carla:

    Guilty! I’m Canadian and I once went overtime in a Swedish clothes drying rack. The guy was nice about it though, no post-it note, he just stood there staring at the machine til I figured out my mistake!

  10. tibor:

    Hi Carla!

    Thanks for sharing it! Yes,right. A tipical weird situation. :-). I know it, you know it and then silence. But my experience is, that it is easier for foreigners to get away with it since they don´t usually know the customs at first.

  11. János:

    Thank you, very interesting reading. I personally think this is a very interesting topic for discussion. There are unwritten rules of how to act in almost every situation. Especially in the laundry room, due to the fact that one has to plan and book ahead in order to successfully managing ones “dress code” for the upcoming week. And why confront someone, when you can write a post-it note? Simple and informative 🙂

    Another one of my favorites is the very peculiar “form-a-queue” phenomenon, occurring whenever there is a reason for it (or is there?). So if you ever happen to go in front of a Swede standing in line, which might happen if queuing is not part of your norm, s/he will be very quick in showing his or her disapproval by grumbling or muttering 🙂

    Looking forward to next entry!
    Take care

  12. Becca:

    Swedish laundry rooms have now become “finkultur” and you can see an exhibition on their history, collections of angry notes, love stories that have taken place in them and more at Nordiska Museet in Stockholm.

  13. tibor:

    Dear Janos!

    More to come, hope it will pleases you. And well, yes the way of queuing has its own tradition in Sweden. We have actually had a few humorous tv-programs about it.

  14. tibor:

    Thank you Becca for you comment. Yes it is true and there is an exhibition right now in Stockholm. I wonder what the next “finkutur” becomes?!