Do I need to leave a tip in Iceland?
When we choose to live in a society we accept the fact that we have to obey some basic rules on how to behave when we share spaces with our fellow men. The importance people attach to the rules increases with the cultural significance of the spaces in question, or the taboo of the actions regulated. Obeying these rules, and even learning these rules, can be a challenge, especially for foreigners, as the rules are frequently unwritten, creating countless opportunities for people to commit egregious faux pas.
Observe the rules at the swimming pool!
As everyone who has visited an Icelandic swimming pool knows, Icelanders attach considerable significance to the rules governing behaviour at the pool. There are, for example, few ways to generate more silent hatred and loathing from Icelanders than to enter a swimming pool without first showering in the nude.
Rules on how to shower are of course prominently displayed in every swimming pool. But modern technology and attempts by the swimming pools to increase the convenience of guests has created new and novel ways to offend Icelanders at the pool, and not all of these rules have been written down and published. Yet.
One of these is to use the blow-dryer to dry your nether regions.
Written and unwritten rules
The staff at the old downtown swimming pool Sundhöllin had provided guests with handy blow-dryers to dry their hair, but as some gentlemen were happy to discover the dryers were just as useful when it came to drying their ball sacks, others were less pleased with this novelty.
After Haraldur Jónasson, a disgruntled swimming pool patron wrote an article under the title "This is not a ball sack dryer" for the local newspaper Fréttatíminn, denouncing this use of the blow-dryers as an example of inconsiderate and offensive behaviour at swimming pools and gyms. The staff at Sundhöllin decided the rules were good enough to post publicly and prominently. Rule no. 1:
"Don‘t dry your ball sack or your butt with the communal hairdryer in the swimming pool or the gym. Bald older gentlemen with hairy torsos must either bring their own blow-dryers or just buy a more absorbent towel."
According to the sources of Iceland Magazine the rules were posted last year. The photograph caught considerable attention in Icelandic social media, as did the neologism „ball sack dryer“. We fully expect some entrepreneuring manufacturers of small electric appliances will see the marketing opportunity and sell special dryers for men for use on their nether regions.
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