It strikes me each time anew when, on my way to the office, I bike past a dozen children walking alone, or in groups, from home to elementary school, generally without adult supervision. Each time I wonder is this still possible? Apparently yes, at least in Kuopio. Granted, Kuopio is not a metropolis but it isn’t countryside, being sheep the greatest danger, either. I happen to live close to an elementary school which makes for an easy walk for children in the neighborhood and perhaps doesn’t represent the mean home-to-school distance. I’m sure there are several reasons but it seems that the parents of those children trust their neighbors.
Some weeks ago, a co-worker and I had a meeting and we first stopped for morning coffee and tea at a gas station along the way. After tea, I had forgotten my gloves on the chair. Just after noon, we were on the road again and stopped for lunch at the same gas station, the chance for me to check, and ask, for my gloves. Not that I had much hope. In fact, they weren’t on the chair anymore and the personnel knew nothing about them. I thought, oh well, I have a second pair at home. My co-worker was not impressed by my conclusion. It was almost like, being Finn, he knew better: those gloves are not gone. He knew better. Just before leaving, we walked past the chair and, pointing at the top of a coat rack next to the table, he asked are those your gloves? You can guess the answer. Apparently he trusts his neighbors.
A few months ago, a Finnish friend of mine was on the road, cycling with her bag, including cellphone and wallet, fixed on the pannier rack. Along the way she lost the bag and, at first, she didn’t notice it. A few kilometers down the road she realized she had lost the bag and cycled all the way back to search for it. The better part of an hour went by and the bag was nowhere to find. Not surprisingly. The bag had already been delivered to her mum’s address. A woman found the bag, found the cellphone, scrolled through the contact list, found the entry for Äiti, called and delivered. A story to grow some trust in your neighbor.