The Native: The Angry Note

2012-03-14. Published in Language & Culture
by Emma

A few weeks ago I wrote about Jantelagen and this week I found the ultimate proof of the Swedes fear of conflicts. I have seen it a lot of times before and there are even books written about it. I am talking about… the angry note. I hope the bare thought of it is making you shiver. This is serious stuff.

You have probably seen it, the handwritten note by the entrance in you building. It is most likely placed on the advertising board next to notes about furniture for sale and telephone numbers for the local salsa instructor or it might even be placed on the doorway so there is absolutely no chance you will miss it. This is your conflict scared neighbours trying to tell you that you have done something wrong and that they are really upset about your behaviour. Maybe a loud party in the middle of the week is the reason behind the angry note or the fact that you are practicing your trombone solo after 10 pm when your neighbours are trying to sleep. It might also have reasons like the fact that you have missed your time in the laundry room or that you have exceeded your time limit there. These are examples of sensitive occasions that might get you neighbours pissed off. What might be a better way for them to express that than writing an angry note?

The other day I found an angry note written by one of my neighbours. It was actually located on the door, so I passed it on my way out. The text on the note was: “NB! You, who are walking here and throwing out bread, please do so where you live and not here”. I found this note interesting in many ways. First and foremost, it got me wondering who the mysterious bread thrower is. How did the person writing the note know that the bread thrower did not live in our building? And why did the person throw out bread in the first place? I guess you can see my point here. It is quite clear to me that my neighbour knew who this person was, but instead of telling the person to stop throwing bread he/she decided to write a note.

So, next time your neighbours are annoying, do something real Swedish about it and post an angry note on the wall in the corridor, on the doorway or on the advertising board. Or if you are real daring, drop it in your neighbour’s mailbox.

(Translation of note in the picture: "You bastard who tumble dried a rug in the 1st, MAY YOU BURN IN HELL!". Picture found in the blog: Arga Lappen)