Visitors to Helsinki often comment on how well everything works. The trains run on time, the movies start when they say they will and it is very rare to see anyone cross the street before the green man appears, even when there are no cars.
Another thing I’ve noticed is the displaying of lost property. It seems there’s an unofficial understanding that if you find something of little value you drape it somewhere it will be easily found should the owner come back.
As the weather warms up the lost property du jour seems to be gloves. They are everywhere. Strategically placed on bushes, fences and elegantly draped over power boxes.
Which is not surprising really as Helsinki recently came first in an experiment to find the world’s most honest city. Eleven out of 12 ‘dropped’ wallets were returned to the owner with everything inside.
While every city has street crime I haven’t noticed it here. While Sydney is a great city, working in cafes there I witnessed bag snatching, wallet snatching, phone snatching, kids breaking into cars and people trying to steal the tip jar.
We even had one guy who would come in and stuff whole pieces of cake in his mouth and run off without paying. All part of living in a vibrant city of 4.5 million people where there’s a gap between those who have and those who have not.
So to me these Finnish displays of lost property seem like an indication of the overall honesty of the city’s population. True, no one wants one glove but I’ve also seen hats, shoes and sunglasses strategically arranged that have been left behind.
To be honest, Jonny’s Ray Bans disappeared after being left in a Helsinki changing room but he recently had a friend request on Facebook from a cafe worker here that he didn’t know. She was asking him to return to collect the credit card he’d left last time he bought a coffee.