Wednesday, February 26, 2014


Ane looked very pleased with herself as she walked over to Bjorn, leaving the workers at the end of the production line to resume their activities.

"They were planning to park the fish outside," Ane explained. "A terrible idea. It is difficult enough to keep the seagulls away from the fish we're hauling into the plant, so you can imagine what would happen if we left these crates with finished product out there for the birds to peck into."
"It would be a right mess, wouldn't it?" replied Bjorn, stating the obvious.
"You could say that again. But some of these people have never seen the sea before, let alone seagulls, so I guess they can be forgiven for coming up with such a silly idea."

Bjorn was happy to see Ane so talkative, and eager to keep her that way he glanced over at two men pulling a cartload of finished product over towards the sea side wall.

"So you told them to put the fish over there?" Bjorn asked.
Ane followed his glance. "Yes, that's the idea," she concurred, joining Bjorn in observing the men. Then, as the men stopped by the gate, Ane raised her hand in approval, signalling that the men could go ahead and park the fish at their chosen spot.

The two men, an African and an Asian smiled and waved back at Ane, clearly happy for her approval, and this made Bjorn again curious about the sort of conditions the workers were labouring under. He could not quite make up his mind as to the nature of what he was witnessing. The smiles of the workers, taking pride in doing things right, did not quite square up with the drab and dreary vision of a gulag. But on the other hand, Ane was in possession of a gun, and probably for good reasons.

"How much are you paying them?" Bjorn ventured, hoping he wasn't overstepping his welcome by asking such a loaded question.
"Hundred MG per day," Ane replied without hesitation, clearly not bothered by the fact that so little money could hardly be considered a living wage.
"But that's nothing," Bjorn protested. "Nobody can live on that."
"Well, they are alive, aren't they?" Ane replied, with her cold stare returning in a flash.
"But you can hardly get a loaf of bread for so little these days," Bjorn continued, ignoring Ane's stare, feeling rightfully outraged on behalf of the workers.

Ane paused as if considering whether or not to bother a reply. Then, apparently sensing that Bjorn was genuinely interested in some sort of explanation, she continued.

"They are paid what they are worth. There is no shortage of labour, you know. And in a few weeks time, there will be thousands coming up here, and then I may well pay them even less."
"Less than a hundred MG? There is no way anyone can survive on so little," Bjorn protested.
"Want to bet?" Ane replied. "Do you have any idea what things cost up here?"

Bjorn was suddenly reminded of the five hundred MG that he was carrying in his pocket, which Ante had assured him was enough for a full night of fun in the village. And it suddenly dawned on him that prices may indeed be radically different in the village from what he was used to in Oslo.

Bjorn had to admit that he did not in fact know what things cost in Lundby. "But can people really live on a hundred MG a day?"
"Well, clearly they do," Ane answered. "Do these people look as if they are starving?"

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