My Oddest Swedish Job: Rooftop Frozen Water Technician

My Oddest Swedish Job: Rooftop Frozen Water Technician
Moving to Sweden often entails a career shift of one type or another. But as The Local's Ben Kersley discovers, some immigrants to Sweden find themselves on career detours that take them to rather unexpected places.

Sweden. New country. New language. New Experiences. New Job.

More often than not the humble immigrant finds him or herself in a line of work for which they are unqualified, unprepared, and to the folks back home, unbelievable.

Here’s a look at one of the many odd jobs new arrivals in Sweden have done to make ends meet in a country where jobs for the expat can be hard to find.

My Oddest Swedish Job: Rooftop Frozen Water Technician

Name: Ben Richards

Nationality: British

Job Title: Rooftop Technician (snow shoveller)

Moved to Sweden: October 2010

Work in home country: Ticket seller for West End musicals

What is your odd Swedish job?

I’m an altitudinal frozen water technician….. I clear snow and ice from Stockholm’s rooftops.

How did you get your odd job?

In the way that it seems most work is found here – through a friend of a friend. The interview process was quite simple. There are no language skills required, you just need to be able to recognise a hammer, a spade, snow and ice….. and not have a problem with working 100 feet above the pavement while suspended by a thin rope tied round a chimney.

So they basically just ask if you are afraid of heights and don’t mind the cold?

Pretty much.

What’s the best thing about your job?

The views. You get to see Stockholm from an angle that most people never see it from. There were times that you just felt so privileged to be up there, seeing things that only the pigeons normally see.

Your take on the city changes a bit too. You start seeing the urban jungle in terms of its roofs – “That’s a good bit of tiling…nice sturdy chimney, that…. look at the slope on that one”.

I also found myself looking at Globen one day and imagining what it would be like to work a domed roof.

And what’s the worst?

Apart from potentially falling to your death? It’s the cold. It can be a very cold job.

What kind of people did you work with?

All sorts…A lot of people who played in bands, who would shovel snow by day and rehearse by night. I was lucky as my team were all nice people, but I did hear stories about arguments between co-workers that led to safety ropes ‘accidentally’ being untied.

Any tips for new snow shovellers?

Dress warmly. It’s all about staying warm…and not falling, of course, but when you’re up there, it’s mainly about being warm. The key is a good pair of socks. A lot of people recommend double socking, but I found that just one really good warm pair was perfect.

What are you doing now?

I’m currently looking for more work. I loved being a snow shoveller, but let’s face it – It’s seasonal work… I’m probably the only person in Stockholm that’s praying for more snow.

Share your oddest Swedish job experience!

What’s the oddest job you’ve ever had in Sweden?

If you’d have an oddest job experience profiled on The Local, send an email describing the job with “Odd Swedish Job” in the subject line to [email protected].

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