The Shining (Finland)

Finland – Lapland ~ 2013

You know in The Shining? When Jack Nicholson goes a little bit bonkers (to put it very gently), due to being cut off in the middle of nowhere? And you are left wondering whether the character was always a little bit crazy, or if the icy conditions turned him that way…well yeah, so I used to think that was an interesting story and great film (like the rest of the world!), but I didn’t rank it as a real life documentary study on mental health. That is…until I spent a few months in the wintry tundra of Finland last year…

Let me explain. You see this lodge really was in the middle of nowhere, with snow as far as the eye can see and only a few other buildings in the surrounding area. That means that employees were flown in to an airport in Sweden, and then drove to this log cabin to begin their toil…which was basically slaving away so that rich white people can enjoy a manufactured “get away from it all” experience. An obvious paradox, but that is not what this is about! Anyway, the food there was pretty uninspired, after all the kitchen staff had a limited stock of frozen items and were expected to whip up some kind of Parisian masterpiece three times a day, the guests always complained…I felt like telling them, “listen wrinkles! If you think YOURS is bad, then what slop do you think we get?!” But I refrained, over and over and over again…my fake smile becoming more and more strained as the days went on…

Fake Smile GIF

But there was light at the end of the tunnel! I heard that a new head chef was coming, and that he had all of these awards, and used to run a five star restaurant, and could fly, and make chocolate come out of the taps…basically people said this guy would revolutionize things, and we might get something more wholesome than reheated crispy spaghetti from four days ago. I wasn’t going to hold my breath. But you know what? He did! As soon as this cheeky Scottish chappie came bouncing through the door the food was markedly better, it had…it had…TASTE! I am not sure what he was doing, but it was working! By the end of his first dinner time he had already won over our taste-buds and our hearts! But unfortunately…the good times didn’t last forever, it was only a couple of weeks in to his tenure that he started falling apart, first he would scream at the other staff like a Gordon Ramsey wannabe, but then he became more extreme and odd in his behavior…one time he argued with me about the vegetarian option (which was fish?!?!) in ear shot of a customer who had requested it “HUUU IZ IT? THE FAT LESBIAN OUT THERE? SHE’S NOH A VEGETARIAN NEE WAY!” and another time I did a stock check of my bar and noticed two bottles of wine had vanished…I put two and two together when he was an hour late for cooking breakfast the next morning! Then there are the sexist comments, the racist comments, the…okay. There are a lot I could list, but suffice to say that he regularly made the waitresses cry and effectively made a shitty situation even shittier for just about everyone.

He was a prick, basically, but I certainly wasn’t expecting him to turn full scale mad. But one day his walls of sanity came crumbling down before our very eyes…he was late for breakfast as per usual, which is a bit of an issue when, errr…guests at the hotel expect to be fed in the morning…anyway, he started F’n this and F’n that – nothing unusual, sure. But then he decided to tell ANYONE who came in the kitchen to “GET THE FUCK OUT OF MY FUCKING KITCHEN, IT’S MINE”…well this was a slight issue, as what this Gollum-esque character had neglected to realize, is that waiters and waitresses needed to come in to fetch the food out…of course very quickly there were complaints from just about everyone sitting in the restaurant, both about the fact that they were not getting any form of service, but also about the manically loaded and profanity driven language that was coming out of the kitchen! I’m sure I saw an older couple hiding under a table…and a lady kneeling saying some holy Mary’s. Eventually the big boss was called. You seriously don’t mess with this bitch…I don’t use this term loosely; trust me she was the dictionary definition. She once asked me for water with ice, and when I gave it to her she said “what is this? Don’t you know I want three ice cubes, not four?” Basically, this was set to be an ultimate encounter of the most thrilling kind! “Errr, Chef – excuzzz-“ “GETTT THE FUCK OUTTA MY KITCHEN!”

Shining Mad GIF

Excited gasps from everyone. “What?! No, you don-“ “GETT THE FUCK OUT. THIS IS MINE. YOU STAY IN YOURS.” More excited gasps from everyone – possibly an “oooooh!” “I am the-“ “I RUN THIS, THIS IS MY AREEEEEEE-NAH!” And so it went on, until he stormed off in a red faced huff. Afterwards everyone looked very sheepish, and the guests still hadn’t been fed. So what happened? Well, the boss was forced to roll up her sleeves and whisk the eggs and fry the bacon herself! Of course the waiting staff had a fun morning, they shared “OOOOOHHMYGOD” glances at each other and whispered rumors when they had a spare second; it certainly broke the usual monotony of stacking sloppy plates, that’s for sure! But the story isn’t over my friends, not yet! Naturally this guy was fired immediately, I mean it was way overdue, but the bosses were forced to let a lot slide, as it is a pain to get a new chef all the way out to the Lapland wilds! Anyway, I guess this big kick off was the final straw, as they couldn’t not fire him. So as was routine in these situations he was asked to clear up his things and hop in the van with Kosta, who would drive him to Sweden where he would have to make his own flight arrangements…but, you see this wasn’t possible…he said he had literally no money, at all. So what did he do? Did he call someone to try and help him out? Did he apologise and attempt to win his job back somehow. Well, no. Obviously not. Instead, as they neared the small airport he took out his chef’s knife set, unrolled it, and held the largest blade to the driver’s neck… “I’M NOH FUCKIN’ GOIN ANYWHERRRR!”

Crazy angry GIF

(Dramatic pause) “I’M NOHH GOIN TILL YA BOOK ME A FLIGH AN GIV ME ME MONEY!” Well…of course he had went insane. Blame it on the weather, blame it on the situation, or errr, blame it on his brain…but either way, this guy had well and truly lost his marbles. But the driver, in a stroke of agility and genius, simply waited for a window of opportunity during one of his garbled ramblings, and slid out of the door – slammed it shut – and locked it from the outside with his keys. Phew, done. Feeling betrayed and even more furious than before, the now imprisoned chef unleashed a second knife, and started to slash violently at the dashboard, the steering wheel, the windows, everything…”RARRRRRRRR, I”LL KILLLLLLL YAHHHHHHH!” All while the Bulgarian driver (who spoke very little English, never mind anything with a thick Scottish accent) watched on, and finally opted to phone the police.

Phone Call GIF

(He never did tell me what he said whilst on the phone to the authorities…I mean…where would you start?!) “Hi…yeah…I have a guy in my van here. Yeah – little worried, he is violently slashing and stabbing at my dashboard…a-ha…that’s right….okay, so now he is biting and wrestling with the air bag…errr…can you come quick? Please?” So anyway, there we have it people! The Shining is real. Jack Nicholson really should be more vocal about it…after all, it could happen to YOU!

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47 Replies to “The Shining (Finland)”

  1. haha dude i WWOOFed at a small lodge in the Northwest Territories that was really similar. the only way to or from the lodge was to fly to Yellowknife and then from there take a float plane 90 miles north to the lake. apparently getting cabin fever in the NWT is really common especially during the 30 days of night. Southerners will go crazy and even do things like stab themselves or cut of limbs so they are forced to be taken to a hospital in Edmonton There was a period at the lodge where we had no guests for a long time and so a lot of woofers went home and we hadn’t gotten the new woofers yet so it was just me and one other guy…. and yeah… I’m not gonna lie… that drove me a bit crazy! ;p

    Liked by 1 person

    1. hahaha, thanks for sharing that story first and foremost! I have to say that the cut off nature of the work did drive me a little loopy, but thankfully not to any extreme (some people had been there MUCH longer and appeared…odd)

      How did you survive?! One other person! That’s when the crazy cabin fever paranoia probably set in? haha!

      Thanks for reading and thanks for providing further proof this cabin fever business, is REAL!


      1. haha nice! oh luckily there was only 2 of us there for one week. it sucked because i didn’t really like that guy, but then then the new woofers came so there 4 of us, and then 6. and once there was 6 it was pretty cool again.

        some of the best memories tho was when id wake up to take a piss in the middle of the night. we stayed in these plywood boxes that were just covered in arctic tarp, so we’d have to go pee in the woods and youd wake up at 3am or something and the whole sky would just be filled purples and greens. kinda shows you how small we are.

        Also one of my favorite videos on youtube is of the northern lights in Lapland. its made me really want to visit!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. It’s the simple pleasures in life, haha! Actually at the end of a hard shift I had go trudge back to the house I was staying in, or hop on a snowmobile…one look up at the sky made everything better. Greenish haze of the northern lights and as you said, the expansive mass of stars…breathtaking. Simply amazing.

        You should visit for sure! Bet it’s expensive if you’re paying for it and not working though! Is your experience of WWOOFing a good one?


      3. Yes I loved WWOOFing and its partly because of what you said. because yes, going to the Northwest Territories is expensive, and wolfing made it all free. In fact, for every woofer who gave this location a 6 week minimum commitment, they provided the bush plane ride for you as well!!!! Were you up through wolfing or something similar?


      4. Ahh I see, so it was a similar kind of set up then ~ I was actually working at a lodge, they provides the flights, board and food, so the pay was errr…well…almost non existent! Which was fine as I was just happy to be there!

        Have you did it anywhere else? I might look into it!


      5. no not yet. Id love to tho. i had an amazing time! if you need a wwoofing partner let me know, I’m so down!


      6. Sounds good, haha ~ you never know! Probably going to travel a bit this summer, possibly do another year in Korea and then who knows…definitely sounds good from what I’ve heard!


      7. yeah, I’m assuming you’re american? if you are you’re able to get a work visa from AU and NZ so id say anywhere but there cuz I’m here working right now in AU and will do NZ next and i don’t wanna waste a work visa doing something that a tourist can do. so any other country than those 2 is cool hahah! i think Sweden or Alaska would be cool


      8. haha! well you can! Just don’t waste all of it wwoofing you can do a working holiday visa for NZ and actually be able to work and make money and stay there for a whole year.


  2. Yeap! This sounds like Finland. In the summer, you feel good. You even smile at people. Then winter arrives, sun disappears for 5 months, and you go a little mental. You should have phoned Santa for help. He lives in the neighborhood. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you for liking “Topiary.” Wow, what a tale! Bad food and a mad chef following in the footsteps of Jack Nicholson in The Shining sounds like a recipe for disaster. At least the driver got away, and the chef attacked the car instead of hurting people.

    I was actually thinking about The Shining when I was writing my “Topiary” post because of the scene where Shelley Duvall’s character runs through the hedge maze to get away from her crazy movie husband. And then I came across this post. What a strange coincidence! 🙂


      1. Thank you for following my blog. The hedge maze in The Shining can be considered a topiary garden element because it was cut and trained into a geometric labyrinth pattern. I have not read the book, but when I was doing some research about The Shining I found out that the novel featured topiary animals that moved when nobody was watching. The topiary animals had a more important role in the novel, but they were replaced with the hedge maze in the original movie.

        Perhaps I was up too late when I was commenting on your post, but I thought it was kind of strange that I should come across your post involving The Shining so soon after thinking about The Shining because of my post. It is like thinking about a friend and then the friend suddenly calls you up shortly after you were thinking about him or her.

        Anyway, thanks again for following my blog and for reading this rather lengthy reply. 🙂


  4. Great, funny stuff! Thanks for checking out Peachyteachy. BTW, I am of Finnish descent. This has no bearing on my experience of reading your piece, but, I don’t know—go Finland.


  5. Canada had the worst winter KNOWN TO MANKIND. Even living in the city with options for communication and entertainment, we were all a bit on edge. I’m sure Catholic nuns were looking out there window at yet more falling snow and saying “No fucking way! That is enough!”


    1. With two veggie siblings I was a little more empathetic than the chef (not that it was hard to be!) Trying to stress to him that if it once had a heart beat they probably wouldn’t be pleased. He didn’t get it.

      I’m working on a comic book series right now! 🙂


  6. Thanks for the funny story 🙂 I enjoyed reading and got quite a laugh. Of course, if I was the driver I don’t think I’d be so amused ahhaha I would have probably just ran out of there!


  7. Lapland is a great place to visit but there are also other interesting destinations in our beautiful country 😉 I simply love Helsinki (and its beautiful sea view)!!! ❤


  8. Wow! That was a roller coaster all the way through. I can imagine going a bit bonkers after spending so long in a place like that but my goodness something must have been wrong before then.


  9. I am so jealous! How did you find that job? I am an American, so it’s probably harder for me to work internationally, but MAN WOULD I LOVE TO GO TO FINLAND. Sorry for shouting, but I very much would like to, crazy chefs and all.


    1. My sister found it actually, I believe it was on a “work away” website, not sure really. There is so much out there! I think it probably makes it a little tricky with visas but still manageable! Finland is great!! So shout away 😂😂😂


  10. did you get to Helsinki? I’ve always wanted to visit there. Although the northern lights sound beautiful, the rest of your story does sound like something out of a movie.


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