Saturday, June 23, 2007


This story has, unsurprisingly, been making the rounds of various music-related websites I frequent.

A Swedish heavy metal fan has had his musical preferences officially classified as a disability. The results of a psychological analysis enable the metal lover to supplement his income with state benefits.

Roger Tullgren, 42, from Hässleholm in southern Sweden has just started working part time as a dishwasher at a local restaurant.

Because heavy metal dominates so many aspects of his life, the Employment Service has agreed to pay part of Tullgren's salary. His new boss meanwhile has given him a special dispensation to play loud music at work.

"I have been trying for ten years to get this classified as a handicap," Tullgren told The Local.

"I spoke to three psychologists and they finally agreed that I needed this to avoid being discriminated against."


The ageing rocker claims to have attended almost three hundred shows last year, often skipping work in the process.

Eventually his last employer tired of his absences and Tullgren was left jobless and reliant on welfare handouts.

But his sessions with the occupational psychologists led to a solution of sorts: Tullgren signed a piece of paper on which his heavy metal lifestyle was classified as a disability, an assessment that entitles him to a wage supplement from the job centre.

"I signed a form saying: 'Roger feels compelled to show his heavy metal style. This puts him in a difficult situation on the labour market. Therefore he needs extra financial help'. So now I can turn up at a job interview dressed in my normal clothes and just hand the interviewers this piece of paper," he said.

The manager at his new workplace allows him to go to concerts as long as he makes up for lost time at a later point. He is also allowed to dress as he likes and listen to heavy metal while washing up.

"But not too loud when there are guests," he said.

Just as unsurprisingly, a tool of my acquaintance has responded with statements like "I hope the Swedes get their Thatcher/Gorbachev soon" and "Yeah, I 'wish' they had that in America, so I could be a lazy-ass motherfucker and leech off people who actually work for a living. Yes, I wish the entire world was like Sweden, so I could sit on my ass all day doing nothing, and still collect dole queue cheques."

Because people like this tool of my acquaintance (who, by the way, teaches English in Taiwan for a living, precisely because life is cheap, the hours are short, and he's got a fetish to indulge) internalized the perverse "Protestant work ethic," they can no longer see that people who work for a living are to be pitied. Not because there's something innately horrible about work in itself, but because there's something innately horrible about selling your life. Work for what you want, and do as little as necessary to achieve as much as possible. Pay-the-rent jobs are all shitty, all a waste of time, all to be avoided as much as possible. It's the work you do for yourself that's virtuous; all the rest is evil, because it steals time you could be spending doing something enjoyable. Life is a one-way journey with no do-overs. Every moment you spend doing something you'd rather not be doing, whether it's working for an asshole boss so you can pay an asshole landlord or talking to someone whose conversation is like a drill-bit in the brain, is time you'll never get back.

I admire this guy, because he's come up with a terrific scam. If I could talk my boss into that, I'd do it in a minute. And if you can look at him and not feel the envy one feels when witnessing an artist at work, but only the contempt a scumbag yuppie feels for a homeless person, then you're the one who's fucked in the head, not him.

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