It’s 6 pm. You’re at home watching TV with your family. The doorbell rings. What do you do?
A) Grab the remote, put the TV on mute and slow your breathing. Your kids are only toddlers, but they already know to freeze and keep their tiny mouths closed.
B) Walk to the door and open it.
If you live in Finland, the correct answer is A.
It’s already been a couple of years since the YLE tax replaced the old license system, but the fear of getting caught by the dreaded TV inspector has left generations of Finns scarred for life. At least that’s my theory.
You see, after 25 years of empirical research, I’ve concluded that many Finns suffer from a little-known condition called houseguestaphobia. I’ve got lots of really good friends whose homes I’ve never been to. And vice versa. People’s homes are their castles, and here, many of them are harder to get into than Buckingham Palace. But over the past few weeks a steady stream of total strangers have been ringing my doorbell.
It’s 6 pm. “Ding dong.” I open the door for a woman I’ve never seen before. I hand her a snowsuit that’s too small for my daughter, she hands me 50€.
“Who the f**k was that?” Antti asks. Some lady I met on the Internet, I answer.
Gotta’ love those kids’ Facebook flea markets! Want to get back some of the 200€ you paid for your little darling’s hockey equipment after he decided he wants to take ballet instead? No problem! Looking to unload 400 tiny bodysuits your baby grew out of before she had time to wear them? Sold! Sites like “Punavuori recycles” are a quick and easy way to sell your stuff. But I’m starting to think they actually do something much more valuable than that.
I didn’t spend much time alone at home with my kids, but lots of people do. It can be lonely. And it doesn’t take long before you start looking for human contact with people who don’t wear a diaper.
Like the woman who posted this ad:
“Selling a potty, bought 4 years ago from Anttila for 6.90€, been used by two children. Pick up in Punavuori, price 0.50€”
Or this hippie:
“Looking to exchange a used Muumi pillowcase for a package of tofu or some soy milk.”
While I enjoy meeting new people, personally I couldn’t be bothered to lift my ass off the sofa to open the door for someone who’s there to give me 0.50€ for my kids’ old toilet. But I’m excited that the damage done by years of fearing the TV inspector’s “ding dong” is finally being undone, one frugal mommy at a time.
P.S. Our door code is 3625, come over anytime!