Order, Norwegian disorder

I often say ‘You are what you tolerate’. 

My friend drove through the relatively quiet streets of the outer areas of Oslo this morning, with no rush on his mind. Speed limits are more observed than broken, so movement on the roads is generally calmer. If you want to drive at speed, within higher limits, you can do that on freeways. You do not tend to see much reckless driving going on in areas where there are people or non-motorized vehicles. People tend to take fewer risks with their own and others’ lives. Taxi drivers do not appear to be on kamikaze missions. 

“Stupid!” he said, as a group of young men stood at a road junction, talking, but blocking his view of the traffic coming along the road we needed to cross. “Inconsiderate,” I said. I checked for him and told him when it was clear. The youths were clearly focused on their chatter and not on other things. 

Oslo has sidewalks that are almost as wide as one traffic lane in Jamaica, where we have sidewalks designed for people the size of Norwegian trolls. :(​ The sharing of space between vehicles and pedestrians is more even, and walkers are not expected to give way to vehicles most of the time; the contrary is usually the rule. However, like many people in Jamaica, Norwegians often walk in the road, because the road surface is even and unbroken, so a person pushing a child stroller, for instance, has an easier time in the road. But, that then brings pedestrians into possible conflict with cars, when they were supposed to be separated. Even the best-laid plans often go awry…

“Idiots!” said my friend, as a group of adults and children crossed the road, while the man in the group was checking messages on his mobile phone. Even though people cross roads should get right of way, they have a duty of care. Because of the risk of being hit by trams, I’m not sure if the average pedestrian in Oslo is less focused on checking his/her mobile phone than in other cities, where that risk doesn’t exist.

He parked his car at the golf club, but before we left, he got out and checked that he had parked properly, within the lines painted to mark the parking spaces. “We have lots of rules.” I don’t know if his car would have been towed for ‘inconsiderate’ parking, but it’s something worth thinking about.

We headed to the golf course, where I hoped we could walk, but pointed out to him that some clubs or courses in other places do not allow people who are not playing to go onto the course. That’s partly for the security of golfers who would like to encounter only other golfers unannounced than a possible assailant or someone looking to be a nuisance in some other way. Of course, carrying a set of clubs doesn’t stop you being a psychopath. ​

​This course manager was happy for us to go walking, and some people were even out with children in strollers, and as it was also a cross-country ski area in the winter, had paths and tracks set out ready to use by those who were not just playing with their balls. 🙂 It was lovely, with some nice scenic features, by a lake. However, my friend was concerned that we would disturb the golfers or be in the line of danger. I told him that golfers have the duty to warn those who may be in danger, even though some would not understand the warns. So, “Fore!” might be met with a bewildered gaze as someone waited to hear ‘Five’ and wonder who was counting and why 🙂 Anyway, I tried to keep us out of the line of flight of balls. When I sometimes see tourists walking or running on golf courses on Jamaica’s north coast, I often think they are so smitten by ‘Jamaica, no problem’ that they would be unmoved by a ball hitting them square on teh noggin. 

The course was in very good shape and noticeably free from litter other than fallen leaves and pieces of trees. Funnily, I did not notice any recepticles for trash, so they were either well-hidden, or people were being very carful not to throw away anything, even the remains of fruit they had eaten. I saw no bottles anywhere on the course.  But, this is a society where even if you do not put your trash into separate containers to be recycled, you can take beer cans and bottles back to the store and get back a deposit, so who wants to throw away money? (Truth is, in Jamaica, even with our poorly organized waste management practices, many people make a living out of ‘recycling’, especially things like glass beer bottles and plastic soda bottles. If you look carefully you’ll see people carrying bagful of them around to be ‘traded-in’.)

The rough was nicely maintained and not really a wild mess of bush, as is often the case in Jamaica. I saw no signs warning of alligators, as we now have in Montego Bay, at Cinnamon Hill. Norway does have poisonous snakes–vipers (huggorm, in Norwegian), but I saw no warnings at the Oslo Golf Club. I was not playing, today, but if I do, I’ll be wary of any snakes hiding in holes, which is one of their sneaky tricks. 

Norway has seen its society change dramatically in recent years, as refugees from many places, such as Somalia and Bosnia, have arrived, as well as ‘travellers’ from Romania. Norway also has its share of other Europeans, some of whom came as their economies floundered, or politicians messed up, such as Swedes, Icelanders, Poles, or Ukrainians, who also were ready to work for lower wages than Norwegians. There are also those who who came ‘for a short time’ and never left, and now have children who are Norwegian, with parents from, say the UK. I noticed the manager’s Yorkshire accent, and he explained that he got it from his English parents, who came ‘for a year’ decades ago and never left 🙂

All that is ordered is not that way because it was planned. 

Author: Dennis G Jones (aka 'The Grasshopper')

Retired International Monetary Fund economist. My blog is for organizing my ideas and thoughts about a range of topics. I was born in Jamaica, but spent 30 years being educated, living, and working in the UK. I lived in the USA for two decades, and worked and travelled abroad, extensively, throughout my careers and for pleasure. My views have a wide international perspective. Father of 3 girls. Also, married to an economist. :)