The long-running saga of Danish taxes and skilled workers has taken a dramatic new twist, with the broadcast on Danish TV Wednesday night of an episode of the financial news show Magasinet Penge titled Kold dansk skulder til udenlandsk arbejdskraft, which means just what you think it means (if you think it means “Cold Danish shoulder to foreign workers”).
If you’re really interested you can watch it online (although on my browser it came up on a super-tiny screen that I couldn’t enlarge). Much is in English, including this quote from a former Seattleite (her husband works for Microsoft) right at the beginning of the show:
Initially, people don’t smile at you and they don’t say hi.
Or to quote another American living in Denmark, Laura Stadler-Jensen, whose blog pointed me to the broadcast in the first place:
It’s something I always notice when I return to Denmark after being away for a trip home to the States. I go to the grocery store and no one, not a single person is speaking to each other. It’s a silent store with crowds of people. The check out clerk doesn’t say hello or even give you a glance. As I stand ready to pay, I feel a little bit like a ghost with a nameless face. To take this further into building relationships with Danes, that’s another matter. Danes are very private and I respect that. I know it takes a while to get to know them. I am married to one! But, it seems they have a very difficult time making casual acquaintances and perhaps view making new friends as something they don’t need because they already have all the people in their life that they need or want. For an outsider, it makes it impossible to open the door to something that may just be meaningful.
So there you have it. The Danes don’t necessarily need to lower their tax rates to attract and retain skilled foreign workers. They just need to say hi more often! Well, actually, hej.
Update: My Danish-American cousin (who lives in Denmark) writes:
I go to the States to stand in line! I miss talking with people that I will never see again.