A morning reflection from our balcony (16th of June, 2023)

One morning I am sitting in our apartment balcony. The balcony was glazed some years back when the condominium association made a general reparation of the apartments. The association informed all members, if interested to glaze their balconies with their own expenses. Because the association negotiated prices on behalf of the members, those who wanted the service got some reduction of costs. It was about 15 years ago this took place.

Having a glazed balcony is like having an extra room in the three-room apartment. There, we have different materials in different corners. In early spring my wife cleaned and prepared the balcony. She put a table cloth on the small table and a sitting pillow on the three chairs and flowers on the table and on other furniture.   

This morning in the middle of June, 2023 (to be exact 16th of June), I am sitting in our balcony, in Majorna, western Gothenburg. Sitting here this morning, I am both enjoying the sun shine and summer peace, while at the same time thinking of my yesterday. 

From the first-floor balcony, I can see the birch tree with its green leaves, some flowering bushes and more flowers on the lawn. While once in a while I hear a sound of motor vehicles, I enjoy the quietness. The quietness is accompanied by sound of pigeons, sea gals and other sounds of summer birds.   

While looking at the Summer around me and listening to bird songs, I am taken by my thoughts back to yesterday. Yesterday started as one ordinary day as other days. In the morning I took tram number nine from Chapmans Square to central Gothenburg and changed to bus number 100, that took me in an hour to the town of Borås. After 10 minutes walk I am at my work at the University of Borås, where I am a senior lecturer in educational work.

At my work in the morning, I had a meeting with colleague and then answered some mails before lunch. In the afternoon, I attended a mini-conference with about  50 participants from schools and different educational sectors from within the Borås city. While the theme of the meeting was democracy and collaboration, three of my colleagues were presenting their ongoing research. One of them presented about writing and its relevance for democracy, another children books analysis and a third  one about research on school situation for boys. 

The last presentation, on school situation for boys attracted attention and many comments were given and questions asked. One of the comments came from a professor with focus on gender research. This comment was considered as critic by the researcher who work with the situation for boys in school and he gave a strong reply. The exchange between the two continued for a while until another colleague came in between and calmed down the situation. 

At the end of the mini-conference, some of us belonging to one research group were out for after work planned some days ago. There, we took farewell of a colleague with a small gift. This colleague is leaving us for another university the coming fall.  

In the evening at around 20:30, I took a bus number 100 to Gothenburg center. Then as I did in the morning, I took tram number nine to my home in Majorna. In the tram, I met my former colleague T who came back from our former university. He also lives in Majorna and commutes to his work. 

I saw anger and sadness in T´s face. After exchanging greetings I asked if everything is in order? He said he was in his workplace´s last meeting before the summer vacation. In the meeting some colleagues who were just pensioned were appreciated for their services through years and were given flowers and other gifts.

When T was given a small gift a couple of years back, he told the head of the department that he would continue to work for some years and after finishing, he would appreciate to have a real farewell. He waited for that day and he thought, it was this day. He had a music instrument in his backpack to play in the meeting and he also had a golden necklace of his former wife, our colleague who died of cancer some years back. Wearing the necklace was symbolic for him, he wanted her to be with him when he says good bye to the university world. 

T wanted to stand in front of his colleagues to get an appreciation from his bosses and a warm farewell and thank you for 20 years collegiality from others. What he expected did not happen. He was not mentioned in the meeting.  

It was announced after their meeting there would be afterwork. He was disappointed and did not want to join them. He took an earlier train to return to Gothenburg and we were on the tram on our way to Majorna. I told him that I also felt the same after 11 years’ service, when I moved to another university two years ago, the department did not say anything about my services or gave me a bouquet of flower. 

After thinking for a while about yesterday, I returned to enjoying the summer. Looking at the green and flowers, listening to the birds song and feeling the warmth of the summer sun.