Malin de Koning: Perspective

Some of you might already know that I have a decease called MS. And that I am Swedish. So, living in Sweden with MS you will get a 9 weeks long rehab period for free every other year. I am in the middle of one right now. I go three times a week to this fantastic place where amazingly professional and good people work only with the aim to help people like me. Can you believe that?

That is something I am incredibly grateful for in itself. But this post is not about that. It is about something called Fardtjanst (with the two dots above each a for an extra Nordic exotic touch ;-)). Here I will give you a simplified description on what Fardtjanst is:

Fardtjanst is, as far as I am aware of, something unique for Sweden. (Please let me know if you have heard of it somewhere else.) What it is, is a possibility for people like myself to travel by taxi when we are going somewhere. I can't drive a car, and I can't cope traveling by public transport since about 3 or 4 years. So instead I get to go by taxi. For this I pay only the cost per month of a travel pass for the public transport in my region. If I would not reach the full sum for a particular month I would pay less. But never more. 

To me this service is crucial. I would not be able to go to, for instance, my rehab otherwise. And to so many other things. 

Look, I get picked up right outside my door, and driven to the door of where I am going. I sit comfortably the whole way. I do not have to walk to the bus stop. I do not have to make any changes of means of transport. I do not have to share space with lots of others who talk, move around, smell, mess around and so on. 

The journey takes half the time from door to door. Compare 1 hour and 40 minutes by public transport, and with two changes, with 50 minutes by taxi. I could keep going on for much longer about the benefits of Fardtjanst. 

This service is soooooooo fantastic! And I am so so grateful that I have been given the chance to use it. Thank you God for making me being born in Sweden! Thank you Swedish Social Democrats (a political party which was in charge in Sweden for many years and who's well fare politics lays behind a lot of this type of social services) for creating Fardtjanst. Thank you Moderaterna and Alliansen (current parties in charge) for keeping it. I am so grateful! My life would be very different without Fardtjanst. 

Now to the upset part:
It is not uncommon that people in Sweden complain about the Fardtjanst. The taxi might arrive a little late (but within the guarantee time of 20 minutes), or you might have to share the journey with someone else (which if you have problems doing you can order a "singles" journey for). I can't think of all the reasons I've heard that people go on about. They would sit in the car moaning moaning and moaning to the poor taxi driver who has to be focused on driving the car at the same time. And most often he/she is not the right person to complain to anyway. 

This makes me so upset. Have you who complain any idea how unique this service is? 

Back in 1990, when I was 24, me and my boyfriend at the time, went on a six months long journey through South America. Back pack style. Apart from being an absolutely fantastic, beautiful and exciting experience, I got some serious perspective on life and living during that trip. One being that so many people in the world go through such difficulties in their lives. And do they complain? No! 

Check these people out for instance. We (my boyfriend and I) sat in a cramped and uncomfortable and cold bus as we passed this scene. Wow! I know they were gonna stand there for hours, traveling to where ever they were going, coz there was nothing within miles. We are in the middle of the Altiplano of Bolivia here. High above sea level. It is empty, cold and windy. 

This is of course an extreme scene. And I was luckily not one who had to stand there on the back of that truck myself. But I can give you so many other stories of awkward travelling conditions that I myself took part of, when you did not hear the smallest noise of complaint from any of the people there. On the contrary the people of South America are amazing at finding joy and happiness in the now. Making the situation more pleasurable by their attitude and share friendliness. And yes, I am generalizing now. But honestly, I think this is a true trait for all of them. 

It is a cultural difference I believe. I remember speaking to some women in Venezuela about it, when we had to leave the bus and instead walk with our luggage up a looong steep hill in rain coz the road had become too slippery to drive on. 

I tell you it was a caravan of people (hundreds, maybe even thousands) from all the cars and buses that had to wait until they slowly could try to make their way forward upwards until they caught up with us. We were delayed by at least five hours.

I asked some ladies if this was a common situation on this particular road, and if it was something that caused irritation with the people in the region. "Como?" "Que?" "What?" "What do you mean?" They did not understand what the problem was. Instead they were singing, telling jokes and laughing loads as they were struggling up that hill.

I guess that was what attracted me to them in the first place. They did not come across as poor or not well off. Rather more similar to my own socio-economic standard here in Sweden. That's why I thought it was a cultural thing.

It is just a plain different attitude to life. People in the so called western world, should learn from that. We would be so much happier in general. 

I am so so grateful for the possibility to use this fantastic service called Fardtjanst. And I am upset by people who are not able to appreciate fantastic things they benefit from, and instead go on complaining about insignificant details. 

Thank you for reading this far. And remember, please drive safely. :-) 

All my best, 


You can learn more about Malin on her blog, Beading By Malin de Koning


Kristi said...

What a wonderful post Malin, you are so right. Many of us who have so much don't appreciate it fully as we should. I know I am extremely lucky, I've had some hard times and even then I was luckier than most. I love your stories!

Laura said...

I loved your story to remind us it is all what we make it. A grateful journal reminds us daily to pause and be grateful for what is in our life. No time to pause is part of the problem so make it part of the solution,the journal.
Thanks for sharing and best to you.

TesoriTrovati said...

That is a wonderful story, Miss Malin. It reminds me that when I complain about some little thing that bothers me that there are others out there that are much less well off than I am and I have no right to complain about these trivialities. Your perspective makes yous a grateful heart, and even if others are not so gracious, I am so glad there is you in your corner of the world practicing gratitude. Enjoy the day!

Heidi said...

You're absolutely right. My nephew and his friends that I'm friends with on Facebook keep posting "First World Problems" and it's something ridiculous like, "didn't have any ketchup for my fries." I googled it just now, and came up with this website: http://first-world-problems.com/?0e55e0a0 which is pretty amusing.

It is SO easy to take what you have for granted. Thank you for the reminder. And that really is wonderful that you have that service!

Kathy said...

What a blessing for you to have that service for transportation. I have been pondering on this very topic recently, since our power was out for 24 hours due to a snow storm. Those of us from developed countries really have no idea, or for that matter, no right to complain about inconveniences. As you pointed out, the women who wondered "Que?" about the "problem" of having to walk up instead of ride, those women seemed to be joyful and not grumpy. I've come to the conclusion that one of the reasons they are happier than we are is because they focus on others. We tend to focus on things, not people, here in the Western world.

A good lesson for us to think about today. Thank you!

Malin de Koning said...

Thank you ladies for your comments. Insightful ones. Erin, I can't imagine you come across as someone who complains much. Perhaps to your spouse, coz that's what we use them for at times. As filters. Instead of that journal you spoke about Laura. For us to get a grip on things, to get perspective. A journal is probably a better thing. Heidi, I went to that site. It was funny. Kathy, I think you have a strong point there about focusing on people instead of things. Very interesting thought. All my best to all of you! Malin

My Life Under the Bus said...

Malin I so agree - I end up thinking a lot of people are ridiculously small because they can't get over themselves and feel they are some how priveledged to everything. We just lost power for eight days. Was it thrilling - no. However we had a roof over our heads, food in our bellies and 2 wood stoves - more then many of the people in half the world have. Did I know it would be over at some point - of course. People here lost their minds because they couldn't get over the fact they didn't have electricity! How dare the electric company not work faster. I think everyone should have a mandatory trip around the world to see how blessed we really are! XOXO

Malin de Koning said...

Yay Patty!

steufel said...

Oh Malin, that is a great post. And a great advice. Soemtimes when I complain about a little thing, god send someone my way, who has bigger problems, I always feel ashamed then for being so ungrateful.

jeanette blix said...

Malin, I am truly grateful for your post because it really does remind us if we look at things in perspective, we can see that our circumstances are blessings, even those that challenge us..

LisaS said...

Thank you for sharing your experience ;)

Cillaw said...

What a wonderful post! I have a Bachelor of Science degree and studied the different health care systems in the world. Some of the work was group work given the extensive nature of the task. I don't recall reading about that taxi service in my studies.So good to know and once again to be thankful for universal health care.
I loved your contrast to your travels too. A wonderful post.