Thursday, April 3, 2014


Bjorn could not help admiring the boy's optimism in the face of the hopeless situation he and his father had gotten themselves into. With the minimal wages paid by Ane, neither the boy nor his father were likely to see their family in Senegal again any time soon. Certainly not as long as they were sending whatever little extra they were making back to their loved ones.

"Here is five MG for your help," Bjorn said, fishing out the smallest chip he could find from his pocket. "Keep the change!"
"Thank you," the boy replied, suddenly switching to Norwegian, and grinning from ear to ear.
"So you speak Norwegian, do you?" Bjorn asked, also switching to Norwegian.
"A little, I lived almost six months in Oslo before we got busted and sent up here."

Bjorn found the boy's story fascinating while Geir clearly found it less so. Impatient to get going, Geir demonstratively got into the car while Bjorn exchanged a final few words with the boy, encouraging him to keep up his Norwegian, and wishing him good luck for the future.

When the boy finally left, heading back to the village square, Bjorn discovered that he was holding the receipt from Pingo in his hand, and he was for a moment surprised by this before remembering that he had absentmindedly picked it out of one of the bags when putting away the groceries in the trunk of the car. He scanned the receipt briefly before entering the car, seating himself in the passenger seat next to Geir.

"That's interesting," Bjorn said, as Geir started the engine. "This receipt from Pingo has a field for the sales tax, and it is set to zero."
"And?" Geir asked with an irritated tone of voice that Bjorn chose to ignore.
"Well, it means that king Pedro is not collecting any taxes on the food. So we still don't know how he's making any money on this project."
"Maybe he owns Pingo," Geir suggested.
"You think he went to all this trouble just to open a grocery store in the arctic?" Bjorn asked mockingly.
"I don't know," Geir replied, even more irritated. "And you know... I don't really care either."

A bus had stopped to let out a fairly large number of passengers right next to the parking lot, and it took some maneuvering on Geir's part to avoid the many pedestrians crossing the road. Then, he drove the car over to the petrol station where a man greeted them at the pump. Geir rolled down the window on his side, and asked the man to fill up the tank.

"You don't see that very often anymore," Bjorn remarked as the man went ahead with the business of filling their tank with petrol. "In fact, I can't remember having seen this kind of service since I was a kid."
"We have thankfully progressed from back then," Geir countered while tapping the steering wheel lazily with his hand.
"Yeah," Bjorn agreed. "It is not hard to come up with this kind of services when salaries are close to zero."
"Exactly!" Geir nodded. "We have come a long way since the seventies."

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