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Oh, and thanks for the coffee

Icelandic protesters are on a roll these days. A group of people operating under the slogan “A protest a day” gathered this morning for the third demonstration in as many days, this time in front of the Financial Supervisory Authority. They shouted slogans and threw rocks, breaking some windows in the FSA offices. After that they crowded into a branch of Glitnir nearby and made a ruckus.

I must admit that I was somewhat alarmed to see that it was the very branch of which my father’s wife is manager. Firstly because of the safety concerns, and secondly because I know for a fact that these past few months have been an incredibly difficult time for her and all her staff. Shortly after the bank’s collapse I was over at their house and she talked about how angry and betrayed she felt. She had no idea that anything criminal was afoot in the bank before it collapsed. She trusted her employers and later discovered that she’d been fed a bunch of lies. And with all that baggage, she had to forge on, working to rebuild the bank and dealing with people on a daily basis who came into her office weeping because they were about to lose everything. And had to tell them that there was no money, no credit, to be had.

I think that often gets forgotten these days. The plight of the normal workers in the banks who are dealing with the people on the ground – very often the people who are worst affected by the economic meltdown, who are destitute and in despair. It can’t be easy.

Anyway. It all turned out well this morning – a second news item, posted shortly after the first on mbl.is, said that the staff of the bank had made coffee for the protesters and they had subsequently left, expressing their thanks for the coffee on the way out. And I had to smile to myself, because if there’s anything my father’s wife knows, it’s how to throw a good party.

Hardly a breeze, a powder blue sky and white snow all over the ground. Picture-perfect winter scene out there. Temps currently -4°C [24F], sunrise was at 11:20 am, sunset due for 3:29 pm.



Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Lee, UK December 18, 2008, 1:46 pm

    Perhaps they’ll protest in Cafe Rosenberg next to get some free Viking beer… “A couple of protests a day” should keep them well watered!

  • sigga December 18, 2008, 3:19 pm

    brilliant! so civilised.

  • Sigvaldi Eggertsson December 18, 2008, 3:56 pm

    The question is if it stays this civilised in, say, february or march.

  • Perturbed of Malvern Wells December 18, 2008, 4:46 pm

    “I think that often gets forgotten these days. The plight of the normal workers in the banks who are dealing with the people on the ground – very often the people who are worst affected by the economic meltdown, who are destitute and in despair. It can’t be easy.”

    This really resonates with me. Here in England the large Woolworth’s retail chain is making all it’s staff redundant but they have to work in the stores whilst Jingle Bells is played on permanent rotation. Could anything be more cruel? Well, yes: The management have had to put up a very instrusive sign on the front door ‘reminding’ customers that abusive language or threats to staff will not be tolerated. Apparently, the British Public are ANGRY! Not because these people will lose their jobs, but because the closing discounts aren’t wild enough. *rollseyes*

    There’s never any excuse for rudeness in these situations. Are the demos in Iceland now just a way of allowing people to let off steam, as in kettle boiling for coffee not geyser? There’s no sign of any street disturbances here. Well, not related to the economy. Just the usual ones centred around drinking alcohol and gang stabbing of young teenagers who ‘gave me a funny look innit’.

    As the solstice beckons I find myself drawn back to your beautifully presented site. The stunning photo of a calm and tranquil sea scene is a welcome relief from the news you relay. Regards.

  • Jessie December 18, 2008, 8:23 pm

    I can’t see this as something that will settle down after the new year, and I’m fearful of what will happen to many of our economies and the people they affect after the holiday celebrations have ended.

    Iceland was designated the most peaceful nation in the world last year by the UN, but it’s an unfortunate reality that this is what happens when people feel helpless and angry and that their government has deceived them and isn’t listening (still very different than waging an irrational war, though), and the protesters are demonstrating this to the world.

    If the government were to agree to new elections early next year, do you think this would end the protests? It’s my understanding that new heads of the banks need to be chosen as well.

  • Ljósmynd DE December 18, 2008, 10:32 pm

    As I am currently planning our summer holiday in Iceland next year, I wonder, how the country will be in half a year from now (I wonder, how my own country will look like at his time and if I can still afford to travel to Iceland, but that’s a different story). I have always experienced Iceland as very peaceful and civilized, which entails a very relaxed travelling and constitutes much of the country’s capital. I hope, this will not change but I have my doubts.

  • JoeInVegas December 19, 2008, 5:11 pm

    Yes, making coffee for protesters does seem quite civilized, rather than calling the cops to throw them out. But from all of your reports everything in Iceland seems very hospitable, even with people having such troubles it all seems rather non-violent. Snow in the face is a lot different than tar and feathering.

  • Selma December 19, 2008, 7:06 pm

    I am really sorry to hear of Iceland’s woes. I visited your wonderful country two years ago. I was struck by the overall intelligence of the people. Don’t give into hate and stupidity, or you’ll end up with an aging fratboy president …like us. Much respect. Love your blog.-Selma B

  • alda December 19, 2008, 11:53 pm

    Thank you, Selma! 🙂

  • Lolo December 21, 2008, 11:03 am

    Alda, reading of the revolutionary coffee party at the bank, I once again have an overwhelming urge to move to Iceland at once!

    Of course my poor body is accustomed only to the African heat (40 degrees C in my garden as I write) and would perhaps complain bitterly. My Nordic complexion, however, would be delighted.

    Thank you for posting the “coffee incident” – would that all protests across the world end so amicably! A small episode, but incredibly refreshing for the spirit.

  • MAJA December 22, 2008, 7:32 am

    The coffee story is quite heartwarming. Well done to your father’s wife!