Kategoriarkiv: Oplevelser

2021 goodbye to a dark and sad year with one bright exception

2021 was hardly started before the first disaster struck. One of my children needed medical help and in the process I got a parking fine which made a huge negative economical impact on our economy. Parking fines in Denmark is not a slap of 50 euros. No. Some years ago the parliament allowed people to complain and because the parking firms then risked losing most of the cases, the parliament allowed them to increase the fines. 106 euro it became. There has not been a week where we as family has not addressed this loss. Like many Danes I pay half my income in taxes and a train ticket to work is 8 euros each way which makes it difficult to make it a profit to work unless you cut down on unnecessary costs like good of new dates and dentist. We always look in the “Too good to go” department in the supermarkets, so we can avoid going to bed hungry.

2021 was really the year where I realized that I have made poor choices when I was young. After the gymnasium I got a position in a shop and spent the days working for 8 hours, using 2 hours in transport and the went to school one or two times per week in the evening. The result was the title Merconom but it was so much waste of my time because positions today in the field where I work requires a bachelor degree.

The problem back then was that the student counselors recommended getting a trade – not leaving your town in the countryside of Denmark and move to Copenhagen in order to attend a university. That was only something children of rich people did and I was born into a family in the middle class. Back then University was something for the city-people alone, not something for us living outside the 4 big cities.

I pay the price for that today. As many Danes aged above 50 everything is a question to be allowed to serve in our jobs until retirement. We want to avoid getting caught up in the job training mill where a case worker and an employer decide where you can work for your unemployment benefit not earning the right to vacation and other things which normally is a part of a normal paid job. It is a question of keeping your head down and let the young sales people and those with the university degrees run the show.

The parking ticket was only a start. Illness, homelessness combined illness at one of the children with brought us together living 4 people for one persons income together with a bit of aid from time to time. Late in the year a place in group home was granted for my child. Not a permanent place but it bring in more money. We had to second mortgage our house so we now owe the bank more than we bought it for more than 20 years ago. Strangely enough the rent is lower and we can sell the house for more than we borrowed from the bank but the clock is ticking. We need to move within the next 10 years and find a place in there to spent the few years left in our lives.

One of our cats was hit with severe illness. That was 2.400 euros.

There was problems with electricity and plumbing. The house we live in was built in 1968. We only later learning that the company which built the house went bankrupt and as result solutions in the house was made of poor quality. The house is old and tired. I am old and tired. We must depart so younger residents with the strength of youths and hopefully people around them with craftsmanship skills can take over. A new roof is needed within the next 10 years. That is the reason we have to leave as the Covid-19 pandemic has made such a work impossible to do due to lack of materials and manpower in the businesses which could do it.

On the top of it there was the pandemic with its lockdowns. It has not been a fun year for many people who was sent home. The schools only taught using online services and lessons were not taught as they should. One of my children left the university last year and while we had success of seeing the second of my children to become student which was the single joy we had this year. On the top of it was the first child who actually was able to celebrate it.

My oldest child was sick and as result prevented from celebrating with the other students. When I was young I did not attend the graduation party either for reason stated below so I did not consider it a loss.

Back in 1986 I had two reasons not to attend the graduation party. First of most I was working. The entire income of our family was based on working together running a gas station. Helping with providing for the family was more important for me that a day of celebration. I had passed my exam. It was reward enough in itself. It was not like the entire family would have joined in the celebration anyway. They were at work too.

But there was also another story to it. During my time in the gymnasium I was a senior member of the student council. Normally the chairman of the student council would be the valedictorian but at the time there were a conflict between the members of the student council. The student body of the school consisted of students from villages around the city I lived in and students from the town. The village fraction wanted to insult the town fraction by luring a student with working class background to do the valedictorian speech where the chairman was from the old more wealthy class if this person was from the city fraction. They targeted me. I would not disrupt the fine order in the city. There is a danish thing like the law of Jante which maintain the order in Denmark. So by staying away I foiled their plan and the order in the town was maintained.

Did I feel like I missed something out. No. Because the reward of serving ones family and preserve the order in the society was more important.

Back to the present year, I can say from the whole of my heart that I now am the proud father of two students. The pandemic during the summer was not severe so we even was allowed to host a party for the entire class. Never before and never in the future will I experience 40 people party all night in this house. It was the one bright part of the year.

Later we experience a setback just before Christmas. One of my children needed to pass an exam in order to be admitted to the University. The gymnasium was a small one where some courses were not offered in combinations with others. The exam which took place in December turned out to be a stop-exam. In Denmark we have some parts of the education where there seems to be political control of how many who can graduate based on the need of the firms in the business. In the old days audit firms sometime made the exam so difficult so there was a zero graduation rate. After all it was their future competitors they using this method prevented from being competitors. We do not know the result but it is too exciting. If the exam is not passed, 6 additional months is needed before an application to university can be sent.

Also the child was called to a job interview which went well. An invitation to a second interview was received but then it was announced that the manager who had made the first interview was fired and then of course the second interview did not went that good and the job opportunity was lost.

The prime minister used her speech to open for the possibility to invite more people to Denmark to pressure the salaries a bit down so now will a job not only be difficult to find for my child but the payment will be less.

No 2021 was a difficult year for us. Now where I write this entry I got to think about the parking fine and I became in a bad mood as result.

Anyhow. You might had seen a better version of 2021 than the one we got so I will wish you all a happy new year. We for sure could use a better year.

Happy New Year!

Many, many years ago I ran a Marathon in Finland

I was going through some old papers as I am in the process of getting rid of all paper in my home if possible. Among the old items and document I found notes about my participation in Helsinki City Marathon on August 12, 1989.

I had the start number 2000 which is kind of special. I remember it to this day. As I mentioned above, it was the second Marathon I ran. The first one was in the spring of 1989. I was aiming at at time of 4 hours but I was new to the game and had to learn a hard lesson.

Me at the starting line weighing about 40 kilos less compared to my present weight

The routes for Marathon runs are unique. Where the route for Copenhagen Marathon at the time was a very flat route the route in Helsinki took us along the coastline where small hills meant that my rhythm was broken.

While a bit stressing the route passed through beautiful areas in the eastern part of Helsinki and a part of the route was in Espoo. It was actually a loop starting from the Olympic stadion going along the coast line to Espoo and then by passing several bridges to the Helsinki City center before we after a loop ran the same route back to Finish at the Olympic Stadion. It was a great experience to enter the stadion.

At the finishline I promised myself that I would try to complete marathons in different parts of the world. For work- and private-related reason, I only got Copenhagen, Helsinki and New York on my track-record but that is another story.

I will forever remember that day in August 1989 when I experienced such a beautiful background for a Marathon route. My finish time was humble but the experience was something I remember for life.

2020 was the year that almost wasn’t

It has been a difficult year for us, I guess for most.

We tend to forget the first two months. It was the months where two major things happened in our family.

First my daughter moved back home. Poor financials advice and guidance from social workers combined with declining health meant that I decided that the time was to move her back home where she lives with us to this day. It was not an easy move but we managed and are happy together all 4 as a family for the first time in many years. It will last until my son will attend university which we have to make happen summer 2022.

In the end I of course hope that we will become empty-nesters but I do not care how many years it will take. The main goal is that both my children will follow a path they want to follow and find happiness with whatever they decide to work with.

My son was in the Czech Republic with his school. I was kind of nervous for two reasons. First there is a general dislike for Danes in Prague due to some evil hotel managers who years back hired travel agencies to lure young Danes down there for binge drinking holidays. The travel agencies were heavily punished for the torment the young Danes were put through by the local authorities. Also the Covid-19 virus had spread from China and the last days of the week he was down there we were concerned that he might not make it home in town before all the borders shut down. He made it just one day before the borders closed.

Then the long lockdown started. I was not very often at my workplace. I had to go in at the tax-department and adjust the transport discount I get because I missed a month at work working from home instead. That set us back a lot of money. August 2020 my daughter stopped at school and she no longer got any student grants, so we had to start to balance my income to feed two mouths more (my daughter and her cat). Money were few because I years back switched to customer service and in a world with cloud computing, salaries in Denmark have to be competitive with salaries abroad. That means low heat in the house at winter caring outdoor clothes indoor and planning food for every single day.

Also we had an unwanted guest. A rat had entered our house and we used the better of a month trying to catch it which we succeeded doing in the end. At least we were alive and did not get ill. At the Kindergarten my children attended when they were young they also had rat problems and a child died.

We went to hospitals a lot. Back in 2012 one of my children were evaluated at the hospital. The advice given were that we should be kept together as a family unit to battle this health problem. The local authorities dislike the diagnose and put it aside putting economically pressure upon us so the doctors advice were not followed. The result is massive health problems today resulting in several hospitalizations. Looking back I can state that I paid DKK 186,000 (Some 25,000 euros) to let my child become ill. I feel like a awful father for not taking a more confrontive approach against the local authorities. We talk about it on weekly basis. I try to ensure that no guilt should be felt about becoming ill. Of course it is easy to see for everyone that we have missed out on a lot of things. We only had one holiday abroad during the entire lifetime of my children where I paid for our stay. There have not been money for anything since. It is not my children should feel blame for their illness. It is me who did not fight the decisions hard enough.

Together with my wife we had our silver wedding with my wife. 25 years where our relationship have only grown stronger. It was not celebrated other than a close little dinner with the family due to the Covid-19 restrictions.

The rest of 2020 is hardly to mention. Lockdown follow by lockdown. The media all about people in Denmark losing their job, children not being schooled properly. People on farms losing their animals because the government decided to cull them. People risking health issues because the animals are buried close to drinking water supplies so they risk infection from the water they drink.

I feel that this year was lost. If you ask me. Is there any hope for 2021? I do not think so. It is already up to a bad start. One of my children was committed to the hospital for a ruptured appendix. Distressed and with my mind on other things, I entered a supermarket in the town where the hospital is located. Because it was one of the first days after New Year, I was not aware that the automatic parking timer on my car was showing the wrong time due to a new year being entered. Why it is so, I cannot explain.

I got a heavy fine which will impact the economy of my family for many months. 795 DKK or more than 100 euros. I have to pay because private parking firms in Denmark do not care and have put up small signs about private parking outside supermarkets. In Denmark supermarkets cannot be built so they fill the entire property. They have to set aside an area for parking so the nearby streets are not filled with people shopping in the supermarket. But that also means that the supermarket cannot make as much profit as they want, so they make a deal with a private parking firm splitting the parking fine in two. This approach allows them to earn money on parking.

So now I have a child feeling guilt about becoming sick. Death could have been the alternative had the appendix not been removed and questioning of whether this should have been the case instead of putting the economically burden on our family is a daily subject while we sit freezing our house and look for whatever leftover which are sold in the supermarkets to a reduced prize so we can feed ourselves and our cats.

So in short. 2020 was not a good year for us which is a fate we share with many Danes. 2021 seem hardly to bring anything positive in mind for us.

But I have made a big decision in our lives. For many years I have been waiting every Friday to see if our lives could be turned into success. Once you switch to customer service I like did when Formula closed, your career is over. So I played on the national lottery hope every week if we could win and built a future or my life would remain a failure. 2021 will be the year where I give up. The year where I accept the fate I have been given by using the little extra money every week used for the national lottery to buy extra food so we can overcome the effects of the heavy parking fine a bit faster.

I will become 55 this year. In a welfare society like Denmark used to be, I would only have 5 years left before retirement but sadly that is not the case. But any chances to turn our lives around have been passed. Now everything I will be focusing on is to feed my family until both my children have moved out and the go into hiding by moving out of the city to the countryside in the parts of Denmark called “The Rotten Banana” where we hope to live out our lives.

So 2021 will be a transition year where we have little hope for anything positive and just hope to remain alive for 2022.