Things at work are progressing very well. In fact last week a rival company attempted to poach me from TA. As I said in an earlier blog entry, TA had rented me out to another company called Astor. For the past three weeks, I had basically been doing all the cleaning at one of their sites. Anders, one of the senior hotshots at Astor, often gave me the odd compliment on my work, and let it known he was quite happy. But then last Wednesday, he started asking me questions about my wages, and how much TA were paying me. My initial thought was he was trying to work out what sort of commission TA had been extorting out of him. But then he started saying he was very interested in me, and that the company were always looking for good people like me. My first reaction that was “I think you got me confused with someone else, I just sweep the floors here.” As it turned out, he did mean me, and the conversation ended with Anders promising to get back to me after he spoke to his seniors. As it turned out, nothing more was said on the issue, which suited me fine. I didn’t really feel comfortable switching companies so soon after joining TA, and found the whole thing quite awkward. But it was the first time I had been headhunted as such, so quite flattering too.
I'm starting to get the impression that people in Sweden don't work too hard. I didn't think there was anything particularly impressive about my work rate, but it must look good compared to most Swedes. I certainly notice a lot of people just standing around, and progress is very slow. There is a lot of attention to detail, and many of my co-workers are real perfectionists who take a lot of pride in their work. But this also means nothing gets done without a long discussion about it taking place first. Last week, despite a looming deadline, five of us spent a good 15 minutes discussing the best way to cut a single piece of wood.
Breaks every two hours also slows things down, and on top of this most people like to nick off 5 minutes early and return 5 minutes late. Officially we're supposed to have 1 hour 15 minutes of breaks a day, but in reality we have close to 2 hours.
The Astor flats were completed last week, and as of Monday I’ve been working at a new site right in the city centre. This time its luxury flats (one is worth 10 million Kronor (A$1.8m)) right on Goteborg’s showcase street, The Avenue. Word has gone through to head office that I’m a pretty hard worker, so I’ll no longer be cleaning. Instead, I’ll be trained to be a carpenter. My changed status has been noted with some news tools. I now have a knife, and later this week I should get a hammer and screwdriver.
The Avenue site is also where Chris works, and in general has a more international feel. I’ve been working with a guy called Simon, who is originally from London, and wouldn’t be out of place in a Guy Ritchie film. There are also Lithuanians, Polish and Estonians, and in time I’m sure I’ll discover even more nationalities. Unlike the last site in Hammarkullen, English is used just as often as Swedish.