Saturday, 24 October 2009

defending VR staff

Recently I blogged about how VR can't find their ass with both hands. Well my wife points out this morning an article about a recent VR debacle where many Finns were also pissed off.

Clearly heaps of others were and continue to be as pissed of with VR as I am. Reading that I am more confident to say that the management of VR clearly can't find their their asses with both hands.

Some people here have told me that the old white SF european identification sticker on cars before it changed to FIN upon joining the EU means Soviet Finland not Suomi Finland.

Well something I didn't talk about in my last blog post (because I didn't want it to sound like a rant) was the attitude of the staff I encountered. The belligerent and superior attitude of the asshole in the asiakaspalvelu was essentially typical of a comfortable cynical bureaucrat who gets sick of people complaining at him and so goes on the offensive as a beginning.

However in the station (while waiting for the next train) I stopped one VR staff, explained my situation and asked how I could complain about this. He was polite and helpful. Clearly he had managed to cope with the shitty situation he is in (working for VR).

uncle Geoff's rotary HoeI think that its important to say that no matter how you may start out as a human in life, spending time working for a bureaucratic machine like VR you are likely to become just like that youself.

I mean how would bit like to work in a place where everyone you met was angry or unhappy?

VR Policy seems more related to a different century (like the one where my Uncle's rotary hoe comes from).

So try not to take it out on the staff (even if they have been turned into assholes by the machine) try to remember its the machine that needs an overhaul.

Perhaps the central management in VR could do well to visit Japan and see how they manage things, clearly their view is from Russian systems, which aren't working with modern western world expectations.

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

VR - Finnish Rail

From the Beavers lesson:

They threatened its life with a railway-share;
They charmed it with smiles and soap.

Well, here in Finland you won't have to worry about soap and smiles.

I travel 4 hours per day 5 days per week on the Rail system in Finland ... after some months I can say that timetabling is "more like a guideline really".

I'm not sure if this is actually representative of anything, but its interesting none the less, that the "push here" decorative icon on the doors to the "dining cars" has indeed got extra fingers.

Five fingers and a thumb.

Not sure if this means anything but in Finnish language its common to say one has five fingers rather than four fingers and a thumb.

Oddly there is a word for thumb.

This leads me to wonder if the person who made this was saying something, being artistic, or simply following a order sheet to make a hand with five fingers.

Well either way I'm certain that VR can't find their own arse with both hands even with 5 fingers and a thumb.

Last night was a classic example of this. After waiting on the platform in the cold and breeze (and trust me, the cold breeze is cold here in Finland) and hearing for the Nth time that the train was going to be delayed (now adding up to 45 minutes delay so far) I got the shits and went to ask why and when it may arrive.

It took about 45 seconds to walk up to the information area from the platform in Pasila station, and with the PA still saying that the train was going to be delayed I asked at the information desk when the train will depart.

"its leaving now" said the grumpy asshole at the desk (in Finnish of course). I bolted back to the platform to see the train had arrived and was indeed pulling out of the station.

Bloody hell ... military choppers don't drop marines and dust off so fast, probably the train was worried about being late so took off fast to catchup.

So after waiting 45 minutes on the platform I was left just standing there waiting for the next train..


Now this is just typical of the disorganization of VR ... (not to mention the shit-attitude of the counter service staff ). For example, at right here I have a typical sign showing the train information. A quick look will show two things
  1. the train to Riihimaki is late
  2. the morons can't get the sign and the columns displaying the data right (see the red rectangles)
Perhaps someone should send the railway staff here to Japan for some training in both courtesy and punctuality. Ohh ... but that's right ... being courteous is just wanking isn't it....

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

communication style

People say that its the little things that count. This seems to be a point lost on Finns who are so fu*king blunt it verges on rude ... well and actually they are often just rude too ...

One day in discussion with a Finnish friend he explained that being polite is just "wanking", its un-necessary and really does nothing to explain the message.

My experience is that many Finns seem to follow his philosophy. This is more pronounced in the countryside than Helsinki (where the population actually seem to be more like nice people, despite the issues you get in Cities vs Country towns)

Anyway, I was walking to the train the other day and found that this sign was put up to say "Work Area, no entry without authorisation" more or less...

What caught my eye was the face on the "icon" person shows a cranky unhappy face (which is so typical of Finns). You get the impression of "Hey, YOU! You can't come in here, bugger off"

I though for a moment that this is quite different to what I've experienced elsewhere in the world.

The problem I have with expressing what is distressing and annoying about living in Finland is that it isn't anything in particular, its the summation of everything in general.

Since I've made comparisons with Japan I thought I'd contrast this to the Japanese way of expressing the same thing...

construction sign (no enter)

construction sign (no entry)

Both signs are far less aggressive and still get the message across. But that's the point, Japanese are fundamentally a polite society. People try not to get in your face or annoy you. Not Finland ... the general attitude here is "I'm pissed off, so you should be too ... noone gives a shit how you feel so get used to it".

Back in Korea I asked a friend of mine who had had some dealings with Finns what he thought of the average Finnish person ... "grunting alcoholics" was his answer.

The longer I stay here the more I find that so many Finns really are just grumpy, rude semi-alcoholic, socially incompetent (to keep this polite).