Snow Ploughing: The Most Thankless Job In Iceland - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Snow Ploughing: The Most Thankless Job In Iceland

Published December 17, 2018

Andie Fontaine
Photo by
Timothée Lambrecq

If there’s one job in Iceland that doesn’t get thanked enough, it’s ploughing the snow, as one man in Akureyri can personally attest.

In a lengthy column posted to Facebook, Rúnar Ingi Árdal of Akureyri, who has been ploughing the snow for roughly a decade now, speaks from personal experience. As reported, Akureyri, like much of North Iceland, has been buried in snow already this winter, but clearing the roads in the countryside, necessary though it may be, still evokes strong reactions in people.

“Snow ploughing is the most thankless job I’ve ever had,” Rúnar writes. “You get to know what kinds of things people are willing to say to others, words that I hope my young daughter never learns. We plough the wrong way, the snow is in the way, it isn’t ploughed well enough at this house, why wasn’t this street ploughed first, and so on.”

In addition to the endless stream of criticism, he has attested to being given the middle finger repeatedly, and sometimes resorting to tasteless lies in order to get their homes dug out first.

“One guy was shameless enough to tell my co-worker that his house needed to be ploughed out first, because he had a disabled child,” Rúnar writes. “We did this in good conscience every year, each time that particular street was ploughed, only to learn later that he did not have and never had a disabled child.”

Not that it’s all bad. Rúnar says that many people are often courteous and kind, sometimes even offering them cookies. Still, he would like for people to show more understanding for the job he does.

“What I want to say with this column is that life is not always about being in a rush,” he says. “It is often possible to take a small detour or even wait a little while. No one is going to get fired for showing up to work late because they had to wait for some snow ploughing, or I hope not anyway. Be good to one another, it has been said, and use reflectors. With wishes for a merry and hopefully red Christmas,” using the Icelandic phrase for a Christmas without snow.

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