A Story

Last night I was sitting in the Helsinki Central Railway Station with my fellow Canadian Rae. As we sat there enjoying coffee and mini donuts we watched as all sorts of interesting people walked past going about their bussiness. However, not everyone subscribed to the Finnish stereotype of not talking to strangers.

A young black man can up to me and extended his hand as though for a handshake. “He must have mistaken me for someone”, I thought, and ignored him. The hand remained extended however. I shook my head at him.

“Puhutko suomea? (Do you speak Finnish?)” he asked. I shook my hand to indicated that I could kind of speak the language, so he continued in English. “When someone does this (indicating his hand), you shake it. Maybe I put something gross on it, but no, all clean. Maybe they think you’re a racist if you don’t shake, but you’re not right? I mean, maybe I smear dog shit, koira kaka, on it.” (he imitated picking up said thing and rubbing it on his hand).

Throughout this speech he kept his hand extended, except to wave it as he illustrated points. Having said what he wanted to say, his hand remained extended for a second. But when I still choose not to shake it, despite the clear lack of ‘koira kaka’ besmudging its surface, he walked off. Where he went, I’ll never know. Whose hands he tried to shake next is a mystery. What would have happened if I shook his hand rather than refusing it? No one will ever know, but he will always be remembered.

(This post may have more than a usual amount of spelling errors. This is due to it being typed on a Finnish computer which does not have English spell check. Whithout spellcheck, I am nothing)

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~ by end720 on November 8, 2012.

One Response to “A Story”

  1. Hi Dylan,

    We’re finally getting your stories on email [ and photos ] .I don’t understand why you wouldn’t shake his hand – seems to me that would have been a sign of friendliness. However, you must have your reason.

    They say that by day 100 one starts to feel homesick. You must be close to that by now – any twangs of missing us?

    We’ll be visiting with your dad and the Kerfoot clan on Sun. at the Nov.11 remembrance “do”. I’m sure you know that N.J.J.and Alex will be here – wish you’d be here too! I don’t think you’ve met Alex, have you? She’s a perfect match for J. – we think!

    Sure would like to hear more about what you’re doing! Are you in school all day, 5 days a week? What interests you the most [ excluding the girls! ] ? What’s your favorite passtime there [ again, not counting the girls ] ?

    We’ll be thinking about you [ and missing you ] when we’re all tog. this weekend.

    Love, Gran.

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