Te aari ala- ehkäistä
That translates from Finnish to mean “you’re under arrest.” Yes, this is it. My Life of Crime, Part Two.
When I was in my late forties (about four years ago, give or take), I somehow thought it would be a good idea to invest my money along with six Finnish guys and buy an electronics manufacturing company in Finland from its Swedish owners. The Swedes are, well … liberal, and the company was, well … broke. Now the Swedes couldn’t just put it out of its misery and leave all those people unemployed, could they? So they decided to sell it at a “good” price, and we decided to buy it. The fact that I worked for the Swedes at the time and knew the company thoroughly should have given me a clue, but it didn’t.
Here’s one vignette that tells a lot about the work environment. Before we bought it, a new president was brought in from outside the company into turn it around. As a welcome gift, the workers gave him a copy of Karl Marx’s Das Kapital. (For all you kids who enjoy this blog, that’s Marx as in Marxism. You remember Communism, right? The Cold War? No? How old am I?) Anyway, that was another clue.
In any event, over the following years I made many trips to Finland, developed some very good friendships with people there, and basically loved the place. Even in the winter when the sun was just twilight at noon. Balancing that, you could get tee times at 2 AM during the summer.
On this particular trip, we were celebrating something – I don’t remember what because the Finns will celebrate Tuesday given the chance – and going to a restaurant on the Baltic coast. It was decided that we would charter a couple of boats to take us there and see the beautiful archipelago off the coast city of Turku, where our company was headquartered. Well, it was rainy and foggy and we couldn’t see port from starboard, so we stayed below deck drinking.
The captain stayed on deck drinking and that explains why he dropped us off in some customs exclusion zone where we were prohibited for fear we would hijack one of the several thousand Toyotas parked there and sneak it through without paying duty. By the way, a parking lot full of brand new Toyotas should have told us all we weren’t at the restaurant, but as I said, we’d stayed below deck drinking.
Cut to the chase here – the police took a dim view of our spying or whatever they thought we were doing and loaded us into a Toyota van (what else?) and hauled us off to the little cop station in Naantali. On the way, my friend Jukka Salomaa decided that they would confiscate the film from my camera because we obviously had illicit pictures of Toyotas. So he whispers “Pssst, gimme your camera,” or the equivalent in Finglish. I did, and he actually huddled on the floor and swapped out the film for a fresh cartridge.
I was sure this would be seen and construed as an admission of guilt of something, and spent the rest of the ride trying to think about how I would explain this to the American counsel when I called him from jail. It’s a good thing he did it, because they did take the film from the camera, and we would never have had this shot of me in the bowels of a Finnish boat, getting drunk on Lahden, a Finnish beer, while Tuomo Saarinen cuddled a bottle of Finlandia vodka.
PS. If you haven’t already figured it out or gone to babelfish for a translation, kaksi means two in Finnish. I don’t know what it means in English.