The eleventh Yule Lad, Gáttaþefur (Door Sniffer) was admitted to hospital yesterday after slipping on a stretch of icy pavement in downtown Reykjavík.
“I had just caught the scent of some Laufabrauð when I slipped and fell flat on my face,” Gáttaþefur told the Grapevine over the phone. “I was really lucky that a passerby stopped and drove me to the hospital but since I got here nothing has happened. Apparently my case is non-critical.”
Gáttaþefur, who leaves his home in the mountains each December 22, is known for his trademark large nose and his unparalelled sense of smell which he uses to sniff out delicious baked goods in the run up to Christmas.
According to Gáttaþefur he is still waiting for someone to take a look at his nose 12 hours after arriving at the emergency room.
Following years of austerity measures, Icelandic doctors are on their first ever strike meaning an estimated 540 people are awaiting minor surgery; with a further 100 people awaiting specialised surgeries; 800 individual tests, such as blood tests, X-rays and CAT scans; and an estimated 2,041 outpatient appointments.
While patients in need of critical care are getting the help they need during the strike, people with smaller injuries like Gáttaþefur are having to wait.
“God damn it, why won’t the government just give them what they want?” Gáttaþefur lamented. “My nose really hurts, guys.”
As reported, in the wake of the banking crisis, to share the burden of the recession, doctors not only accepted a 5% wage cut, but also ceased seeking pay raises with as much fervour as before.
As a result, their wages now lag far behind other public sector professions and the consumer price index. Compensation in the Icelandic healthcare sector is no longer competitive with those in our neighbouring countries, both in terms of salaries and holiday allowances.
Despite this Minister of Finance Bjarni Benediktsson has said that the doctors’ demands are unreasonable and will, if met, result in a slippery slope, where other professions will ask for similarly unattainable raises.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen next, I’ve been sitting in a bed in the corridor for a while,” said Gáttaþefur. “There’s a lady out here with me, who says she’s been stuck in the corridor for a month! Also, not that I want to alarm anyone, but the roof is leaking and my nose is picking up the scent of black mould, is that bad? Whoa! I think I just saw a mouse!”
Gáttaþefur hopes to be able to make it to his annual visit at the National Museum of Iceland today at 11 am. Bring bandages.
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