Friday, April 9, 2010

No Beer Between Meals? What's Denmark Coming to?

"Is that a frosty mug I see before me?"
Oddly Enough, Reuters blog (April 8, 2010)

"All you people who think I make up everything in this blog, check it out.

"A real story, and much better than anything I could invent.

"It turns out that over there in Denmark, several hundred employees at the Carlsberg brewery have stopped work for a couple of days to protest a company decision to limit beer drinking at work to lunch breaks.

"I'll let that sink in for minute. Some of the workers are cheesed-off because they can ONLY drink at lunch, instead of whenever they want, like they used to...."

I get the impression that the Oddly Enough author has absorbed much of the traditional American culture. Nothing at all wrong with that, of course. However, I was struck at his surprise - or his assumption that his readers would be surprised - at workers in Denmark expecting beer between meals.

I'll grant that there are some practical considerations: Some occupations require a steadier hand and eye than others. For example, who would want the brain surgeon who's got his hands in one's frontal cortex to smell faintly like a brewery?

Celts, Krauts, and Me

Just the same, nearly all my ancestors come from near Denmark. My wife's ancestors are from Germany and the Netherlands. And we settled in her home town, where until recently everybody was Irish-American or German-American. Folks around here take our beer very seriously. I should tell you, sometime, about what happened during Prohibition here in our corner of central Minnesota.

There's More to Life than Beer: Coffee, For Example

What, if anything, does this have to do with Danish workers and their beer? Check a map: Norway, Ireland and Scotland and Denmark are within a few hundred miles of each other. Deutschland borders on both Danmark and Nederland. Folks living in different parts of the old Celtic lands have drifted apart over the centuries - but we're not all that different from each other.

So, me? I understand the American - ah, proper? - attitude toward beer and spirits. But I think I also understand why the workers are upset.

Depriving them of beer between meals would be like insisting that a Norwegian-American drink coffee only between 7:00 and 8:00 a.m., and again for a half-hour at noon. (A word to the wise manager? Don't try it.)

The beer brouhaha? Like the man said, it's real.

Here's what The Associated Press had to say about it:

"Lunch-only beer policy prompts Carlsberg strike"
The Associated Press (April 8, 2010)

"Scores of Carlsberg workers walked off their jobs in protest Thursday after the Danish brewer tightened laid-back rules on workplace drinking and removed beer coolers from work sites, a company spokesman said.

"The warehouse and production workers in Denmark are rebelling against the company's new alcohol policy, which allows them to drink beer only during lunch hours in the canteen. Previously, they could help themselves to beer throughout the day, from coolers placed around the work sites.

"The only restriction was 'that you could not be drunk at work. It was up to each and everyone to be responsible,' company spokesman Jens Bekke said...."

I've had a drinking problem, myself - and I'm aware that too much of anything, including alcohol, may be bad for you. I also sympathize with people who have had unhappy experiences as the result of someone else getting sozzled.

But, although I wouldn't suggest trying it in America: I don't see a problem with the policy Jens Bekke outlined.

A glaring, egregious oversight on the part of the AP story, by the way, as well as Oddly Enough's post: Nobody - neither - not one of these pieces had a single word to say about the most important point of all: what does Carlsberg Breweries' beer taste like? Ah! And these lads are supposed to be professionals.


Brigid said...

Uff da.

Oh, and you might want to look at this sentence: "I don't see a problem with the police Jens Bekke outlined."

The Friendly Neighborhood Proofreader

Brian H. Gill said...



About that typo: fixed it. Oops! (And that's what I do, cold sober.)

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