Okay, here it is. I swear this is true and it makes one wonder.
Mariette has been working at various preschools around town. In most of them there is a chronic understaffing problem and therefore the kids do not get the kind of individual attention they need or the kind Mariette was used to providing in her last job. The situation of shepherding kids, which is a lot of what goes on in the preschools here, is not as gratifying to her as actually raising a kid for the parents while they are at work. So, I suggested, why not post an ad on the Swedish version of Craigslist and see if anyone wants a nanny. No way, she said, no one needs a nanny here. They are all in preschools and the government pays for it. Give it a shot, I said. What have you got to lose? (Such original persuasiveness.)
Anyway, she put up an ad. Not ten minutes later someone answered. A woman and her husband had just moved to Halmstad and needed someone for a good chunk of the week to care for their baby. Ten minutes. I was looking like a genius for my suggestion.
She met with the mother and baby at the library cafe I showed a couple days ago. Really nice cafe.
Now we get to the amazing part. It turns out the the woman, who is American, and her German husband just moved here from Menlo Park, California, not five miles from where we used to live. The husband was a researcher at Stanford but wanted to teach and the university found him a position at the college here in Halmstad. The mom and Mariette used to go to the same stores and coffee shops and here they are 9 time zones away and Mariette is now caring for their little son. I ask you, what are the odds of this happening?
On another front, and probably even longer odds, I taught my first English class this afternoon to a group of retired Swedes who want to improve their English so they can converse better with the natives when they travel to America. I don’t think I have met a Swede yet who has not traveled abroad, most often to far flung destinations: Kenya, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, all over Europe and New York. Swedes always travel to New York. I am selling them on California, though. The local paper did a little random survey of the man on the street and discovered that five of the six people asked had definite plans to travel abroad this winter. Swedes love to stay home in summer and want to get the hell out of here during winter. Anywhere there is sun. Whereas people in Minnesota probably just pop vitamin D in January, Swedes hightail it for Thailand or Barcelona. I find this one more significant difference between Sweden and the U.S.