09 March 2007

new norms (the dark side)

So it's not all a paradise of be-looped towels and licorice up here. Some of the things I've had to get used to are frustrating or stupid, particularly when it comes to packaging. For example, the milk here comes in a square cardboardy box, except unlike the US boxes it's damn near impossible to open. It took me months to perfect the "rífið alla leið" (tear the whole length) instructions on the box. Sure, there are perforations to help you along, but they require a just-so grasping technique that I was not raised doing.

And then, once you've managed to get the darn thing open, you have to fold the opening precisely or else it's milk everywhere, since the "spout" you've created is just too narrow. Finally, when you throw it back in the fridge, there's no convenient way to re-fold this gaping hole, so your milk inevitably ends up tasting a smidge like yesterday's Chinese takeout. Awesome.

While we're on the topic of cartons, the juice cartons here are even more maddening. They're often a similar flat-topped box as the milk comes in, with the addition of a pouring spout. Sounds great, doesn't it? However, the spouts are located in such a way that insufficient air makes its way in, causing a hiccupy pour that flings juice kitchenwide. Just how I like to start my day.

And finally, in the non-beverage category, I miss proper wooden floors terribly. I grew up in the land of maple trees, where solid hardwood flooring is abundant and used everywhere. Even my college dorm rooms, all four years, had solid proper wooden floors. Here, it's the land o' parquet. Looks nice and shiny and wooden and solid but beware! Drop your house keys once and this fragile material is all dented. Don't dare give the sofa just a little nudge into place, or massive scratches will ensue. All the chairs have to have these little sticky furrythings on the bottom of all the legs so they don't scratch, but these sticky things never stay put. A few months in, there's sticky goo all over the floor and the felt tip on the chair has traveled sideways. Time for a new set already.

I know no place is irritation free, and I'm happy to swap crappy milk boxes for other things like always having a drain in the bathroom floor, having plenty of hot water and twenty kinds of fish to choose from on a weekly basis, but it doesn't mean I can't be annoyed when I yet again discover the side of my fridge has become polka-dotted in multivitamin juice.


mummi said...

This milk-thingy is not an Icelandic problem - it's bound to Reykjavik. My first year or two when I lived there, it bothered me to no end. But then I finally realized how to fold the thing, and since then, it was never any problem. I'll show you next time I'm in Reykjavik ;)

ECS said...

mummi! I think it's odd that only us southerners have to deal with these boxes. Don't you have kaffirjómi in the little tiny ones? No g-mjólk? I also noticed that if I stepped up to the next milk-box size I would be dealing with American-style cartons with the proper pour spout.

Now I'm singing the hamburger joint radio jingle. "american style!"

mummi said...

I admit my defeat, we do have these quarter-sized boxes. I had my mind fixed on the full liter ones. The reason of my narrow-mindedness (is that even a word?) of course being that the small ones have never given me any real problem in the folding area. Not anything like the large ones, at least.