Working nights as a security guard at 10-11 isn’t for the faint of heart. Iceland’s 24-hour grocery chain sees all sorts of debauchery and turpitude once the clock hits midnight, from drunks slurping slushies by the shampoo shelf to drug dealers pedaling their wares right outside the door. For former guard Þórunn Anna Orradóttir, the supposedly quiet neighborhood of Laugardalur was forever transformed.
“This old guy was always asking me out for dinner,” she says. “When I told him I didn’t want to go out with him, he said I should be fired.”
But gentlemanly courtship was only the beginning. Once, a particularly narcotized individual started running in circles around the store. When he approached the register with an armful of energy drinks, his mumbling was so severe that Þórunn couldn’t understand a word. She managed to intuit he wanted cigarettes.
Another time, a cluster of men stood around howling with laughter. “Is everything okay?” Þórunn asked. The men passed her a beer and announced: “We’re fucked on mushrooms!”
“You got pretty used to this sort of shit,” Þórunn says. “This one guy was always coming by to charge this electric motorcycle. He was like, ‘Oh, can I charge this in the store? It’s stolen, so if the police ask, it’s not mine.’ Then he traded it for some speed.”
One customer, after griping that the coffee machine was broken, went berserk when Þórunn told him he was actually pressing the wrong button. He threw Þórunn to the floor and started choking her friend before a mixed martial arts fighter pinned him to the ground.
“After that, I quit,” says Þórunn.
The excessive testosterone, violence and open displays of physical prowess could make 10-11 the backdrop for a contemporary Icelandic saga, but not necessarily one of which the nation would be proud.
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