Kafkaesque Moment in a Tax Office

I was a student in Rovaniemi, the northernmost city in Finland. I had never before lived so north, so I had to adapt to many unusual things – for example, reindeers running through our suburb, meat being fried outside the suburban houses, weird dialect and names.

One day I had to go to the tax office, for some reason. It was a huge, box-like building with long corridors. I had to go to the 5th floor, which was a corridor full of closed doors. At last, after walking a while along the corridor, I found an open door with somebody in the room. The name tag at her door side announced her name was “Kallo” (Skull). She instructed me to turn to the clerk in the other side of the corridor. I turned around and saw her name on the door: it was “Pätsi” (Inferno). I had never before heard about that kind of Finnish surnames!

Kafka is one of my favourite writers. For a moment I thought this has to be some kind of joke because all the elements were so self-evident, straight from his novels. But, if it was a prank it was never revealed to me. I got my tax problem cleared out with Pätsi, who was really friendly and proper tax attendant.