From Iceland — Sour Grapes and stuff

Sour Grapes and stuff

Published September 28, 2010

Sour Grapes and stuff

To whom it may concern, It is with a heavy solemn sorrow I draft to you this letter of complaint. Here I am, a bright-eyed and eager young visitor to your fair city, flying half way across the planet to bask in the icy blonde poker faced glow of your gorgeous landscape and megafauna for all of September, my tiny heart brimming with golden promises of “walking around town with BONAFIDE local COOL KIDS – the LOCAL AUTHORITY on BAD ASS!” Galavanting about town, sharing a beer and a laugh, not looking like a tourist, what more could I possibly hope for? Only to be bitterly disappointed last Friday as I stood lonely and alone inside Havari looking just like a stupid fucking tourist. Well, you, cool kids, local, bad ass, cool kids, really left me hanging. Hanging like a strange, sober, solitary icicle, doomed for September to wander the seedy back alleys of RKJVK without you.
Well, see you around I guess.
Yours for September,
Ashleigh R.
PS If you want to find me and apologize I am usually wandering around alone in the Graveyard about midnight.
Dear Ashleigh, sorry we weren’t at Havarí that day. We thought we’d been pretty clear that our walking tour only lasted through August. Maybe we weren’t, maybe you can’t read, maybe someone somewhere made some sort of mistake. Who knows! Anyway. You’ll get some beer at Bakkus to cheer you up. And if you’re really, really sad about missing that walking tour, shoot us an e-mail and we’ll give you a personal one, aight?
Hello there good people at Grapevine,
first thing let me just tell you how great I think your paper is and how we foreigner beings appreciate the pleasure of some easy information! The reason I am writing this letter to you is unfortunately somehow less merry…I am downright asking for help, for I know how to get out of the messy situation I find myself in.
Let me explain…I am an international student at the University of Iceland, I came here first as an exchange student but fell so badly in love with this country that I decided to stay some years more. I will clarify, for points that will be made clear in the following, that I do not come from a third-world country or similar. I am here out of pure personal interest, not out of need.
So, I start my studies all over, and was admitted as a degree student. Being of humble family, I don’t have any knowledge of the wonderful world where Mommy and Daddy will take care of all your expenses. That to say, I have to work full time to pay my ass off, and it ain’t easy these days. I am a waitress in a well known restaurant on Laugavegur, and my condition here is the core subject of the matter.
My employer is (self-admittedly) plain racist. I am not entitled the same “privileges” as my Icelandic colleagues, for instance a day off for a dinner with my boyfriend. No, I’ll invariably be told “Ha, it’s not possible! You should have let me know some days earlier, than I would have said yes” (note: I asked permission on a Tuesday to have off on Saturday; if this is impossible, I wander why my colleague could ask Friday night for Sunday off, and be told it was ok… mmh). Plus, I am always spoken to in a rude manner, that leaves little to one’s imagination as of my foreign passport as being the origin of it. I am not prone to self appreciation, but I feel I can say I am the best among the employees in my same position, the most dedicated hard-working girl and often praised by the customers.
Some time back, during several talks with the Workers Union Efling I found out that on top of everything my salary is around 500 kr. per hour lower than the law states. Putting it in mere numbers, I am payed 1200 kr per hour, per hour, whether Union laws state that night jobs (such as a waiter is if working after 18.00) should have a minimum wage of a bit over 1700 kr. I am not gonna consider that since I’ve been employed for over a year I should also be entitled to at least 2 pay-raise already, but I think it’s clear that over 15 months that makes for a lot of money that I have legal right to get refunded.
I think it is outrageous that Iceland does not have laws protecting employees against this kind of racial discrimination. It is just plain shocking that these things can happen in such a progressist country.
My question is: what would you do? Sue your employer? I know if the Union would take over the cause I would win it, and get all the money back. The point is, how would I find another job? And what would I do without money, but leave the country and get back home? Can somebody help me out here? All the best, *Lisa (of course, I won’ tell you my real name. I’m still afraid of the consequences if my boss or anyone would read this).
Dear Lisa (if that is your real name!!!), what’s wrong with being in need or from a third world country? Maybe we have a case of the racist pot calling the racist kettle racist on our hands here? Who knows! Anyway. We can’t see that you problem with your employer has anything to do with you being a foreigner, really. From what we can tell, he or she is taking advantage of you because you let yourself be taken advantage of and choose to spend your time writing letters to tourist magazines instead of actually doing something about it. So go ahead and sue your employer, and then find a job elsewhere. It’ll be fun! If you can’t get one, well, at least you’re not in need.
 Dear Grapevine,
I would like to say thru you : THX to your wonderful country that it’s allowed for foreigners to work here, THX to Grapevine for being updated even in the middle of nowhere:),THX for the drivers to bring us these news and customers, THX to Elva and Svavar from Gullfoss Kaffee, because they are the best chiefs I ever had and such a kind persons you barely can find in Europe. Maybe 1 remark for Icelanders: the probability that dark hair and dark eyed person will be speaking icelandic is approximating to zero :), but pls – have mercy with us, sometimes we speak other 4 languages and just there is no chance to learn your interesting one in advance. So, all to best to whole Iceland! Martina, Czech Rep.
Dear Martina, on the behalf of everyone THXed in your letter, we would like to THX your right back for your gratitude and generally THXful manner. Anyway, we are not passing on your remark to Icelanders (Icelanders: if you read what Martina wrote above, try your hardest to forget it), because we get so many complaints from foreigner-types that are trying to learn Icelandic and are all frustrated that no one will speak it to them. You shouldn’t worry about not understanding Icelandic. Most of what’s said here is pure nonsense anyway, so just nod your head and go about your business.
I came across your website and have been reading it with great interest. Your English translations are excellent and this is the first error that I have found out of 30 articles. I am impressed with the activism shown by your people in punishing your rogue bankers.
On New-Law-on-Work-IDs-Passed change “eletrical” to “electrical”. Donald E. Pauly Las Vegas, Nevada USA
Dear Donald, thank you for your letter, for your sweet compliments and for your eagle eyes! We’ll make sure to maybe amend this error if we can remember when we have the time and will get around to it someday probably hopefully!
Hae Grapevine, I have few questions to ask you. – Are all articles published on the website appears in the printed edition ? – Would you have any spare copies to give of the previous edition of, say, the past 3-4 years ? ( I know that all issues are available on pdf and therefore printable, but i would like to avoid it if possible) Kv. Yohann Hæ
Yohann! Thank you for your letter! It totally made our day for some reason. Or maybe it was that wet lunch. In any case, we are feeling SWANK! (BTW, have you heard Jay Reatard? He rules! Or ruled. Poor guy). Now, to answer your questions: -Pretty much all of the articles on our website appear in our printed edition. Not all of them though. Not the news, for instance. And sometimes we have so much stuff to get off our chests we can’t really fit it within our pages, so we just cram it on our website. -Uhm… we’re not sure? Try emailing They might know.

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