Sunday, September 02, 2007

Pay day

Although it was not that much, finding the first salary in the bank account on Friday was a great feeling. After all, this year has been financially very difficult, with having to get by with loaned money, small odd jobs and generosity of the family. And even though I'm not usually bothered about money, getting my own money that is a bit more than I immediately need to keep afloat was very important. And a relief.

So, I went shopping. I needed some new clothes, now that I'm a government officer I need an outfit to match my position of authority. Although I have the official position, there's no longer a uniform to go with it. This is a pity, as according to the decree by Nikolai II in 1897 about the rank order in the Grand duchy of Finland, I would be in the 10th class (out of 14). This rank order equates most civil officers to officers in the army and navy. Class 10, where the assistant in the Imperial Alexander University (nowadays Helsinki University) would be equal to lieutenant in the army, although by the same decree, the military personnel will get priority over civilians of the same rank. And there would be a uniform, with a hat to go with the status.

Anyway, although I wasn't looking for a uniform, I was somewhat shocked with what was on offer in the shops in terms of trousers. Jeans. Only jeans, but lots of them. Blue, bluer, bluest jeans. Black, blacker, blackest jeans. Faded, fadeder, fadedest jeans. And I started wondering that surely not everyone wears jeans around here, not all the time. But a quick look around in the town center shows that they do... Eventually I managed to find some non-jeans-based trousers in Hennes & Mauritz where I usually do not shop at. Weird. And for another shop I bought a shirt that I deemed too expensive but just couldn't put down after trying it on...

The other shopping related realisation came later on Friday evening. I went to get some food, and decided to mark the occasion of my first salary by getting some black-label Emmenthaler cheese, and was thinking of getting a bottle of red wine to go with it. Just as I was wondering where the wine shelf in the supermarket was, I remembered that there isn't one. Wine's only available in special shops, run by the state. And these aren't open for as late in the evening as the supermarkets. Luckily I had a bottle of white at home, but I had already become used to just buying wine when buying food, in the same shop.

(Pic: Students in their uniforms in 1853,

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