Friday, August 21, 2009

Daily life of Swedes and Danes

Bryan Caplan's impressions about Danes and Swedes generally match mine about Danes and Swiss.
One of the most striking things about Denmark and Sweden: Almost everyone is overqualified for his job. The guy who sells train tickets doesn't just punch buttons and collect cash; he knows his regional transit network like the back of his hand, and eagerly helps you plan your trip.

I'd add to that generalization that both waiters and grocery store clerks are astoundingly well qualified compared to what I've seen in Atlanta and Greenville. In my stomping grounds, these are jobs for teenagers, and the grownups you see taking them are people struggling out of some kind of hardship. In Denmark and Switzerland, when you get to the checkout you tend to see a row of middle-aged people, all sharply dressed, talking back to you with considerable poise. It's weird, and as Bryan points out, it's a waste of talent.

That said, I must take issue with one of Bryan's observations. I don't know about Sweden, but Aarhus looks good, and Lausanne is the most beautiful place I've seen.

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