28 March, 2014
Oct 16th, 2013 - "The joy of having something to read"
"The joy of having something to read." - an elderly Finnish woman, resident of a lovely one-story house in Roninmäentie, tried so hard to look into her memory for some English to tell me these words after seeing the frown on my face implying that I did not understand Finnish.
Every Wednesday and Saturday, I distribute advertisements to the area of Roninmäki where there are several students buildings, row houses and single houses.
I have to admit it is hard work since Roninmäki is very hilly and most of the buildings don't have elevators. However, I look into the bright side of it: I earn a bit of money for 4 hours of work every week and I get to do some exercise, which is pretty nice.
Before distributing in Roninmäki, I used to do the job in another area which is a little bit bigger and it takes a lot more time. I only distributed ads there for 3 weeks but was shouted at a few times because even though the people living there do not like ads to be distributed to their houses, they do not have any sign on their doors saying "no ads" or anything. So I threw ads into their doors and they yelled at me. Although I genuinely did not care, it always feels pretty shitty when you are yelled at for doing your job. Thus, the very day I knew that I could distribute ads in Roninmäki, I immediately quit in the other area.
It's always nicer to be able to do your job close to where you live. And this is exactly the case. I have more flexible time and control over my work. Of course, the neighborhood is so so much nicer. Most of they residents here are students and they know what to do when they want something or do not want something. I have no complaints whatsoever. I am very happy with this job for the present.
Deep into the very end of Roninmäentie street, there is a very lovely one-story house which is covered with climbing plants (ivy, maybe, I'm not sure). Since I started the job until now, I've only met the elderly woman living there. Sometimes, I see her sweeping the leaves on the ground in front of the house. Other times I see her just simply walk around the small common area of very few houses in the blind alley of Roninmäentie. If she sees me, she suggests I give the ads to her directly. But if she is walking around, I will put it in her mail box. Every time she sees me, she greets me with a big smile. With my very extremely limited Finnish, I can only smile back and say "Huomenta" (good morning) because I usually distribute ads in the morning before going to school. She would respond the same and then says "Kiitos" (thank you) and thanks Gosh, it's one of the words I know very well and I would also thank her. It's a thing here that people say "thanks" a lot, which I find pleasant.
And that is the part that I enjoy the most out of the routine of doing my job here in Roninmäki.
Today, a cold day of October, maybe a bit below 0 degree, I saw her walking with another old man who, I guess, is her husband. Same routine, I put the ads into her mail box, greeted her good morning with a smile. After finishing of with the few last houses, I came back saw the elderly man taking the ads out of the mail box and the woman started to speak to me in Finnish. I frowned and she got that I didn't understand her. Then, looking to another direction and thinking for a few seconds, she stuttered: "The ... the ... the ... the joy of having something to read". I smiled from ear to ear and gave her a thumbs up , said: "Hyvää!" (Good). So, for just a few minutes, I used up all the Finnish vocabulary I had :)))))
Walking back to where I parked my delivery cart, a feeling of depression crawled over me when I thought of how lonely the elderly are here in Finland. The woman of the story at least has her (allegedly) husband and they find their joy in the newspaper and advertisements distributed twice a week. How sad! I've seen old people sitting all by themselves in the park and having no one to talk to. And I certainly do not see happiness on their faces. It is not only the conclusion of my own, others I've talked to about this do agree with me too. One told me that one time, she was shopping in a groceries store and an old woman standing next to her started to talk in Finnish, then she said that she did not speak Finnish but the woman kept talking and talking and did not really mind that the person she was talking to did not understand a single thing she said. Just because most of the elderly here live alone, without their families, they really have no one to talk to and they just have the need to say something to someone, even it was a stranger in a shop.
Individualism ... it might be not my thing ...