I had never come across a particularly strange winter job before. For some reason, they either seem to be non-seasonal, or common in the summer, when there are plenty of students to be enticed into doing something bizarre. In fact, one of my favorite stories from the old Aftenposten News in English service was precisely this, a look at the weirdest summer job in the country.
Then a few days ago, I spotted something I had never seen before; an icicle assassin. Even better, the story came with video.
The story has some practical value as well. If you happen to be driving around Norway’s often unsettling roads in the winter, this may put your mind at ease about what appear to be potentially lethal projectiles all around you.
According to Bergens Tidende, 52-year-old Åge Fanebust has been killing ice for two decades now.
“It’s just fun. But of course it is also challenging to get the ice down. For example, this ice isn’t ‘ripe’ yet,” Åge tells the paper. Ripe?
Fanebust works for Mesta, Norway’s biggest road construction and maintenance company. At this time of year, he and his colleagues roam around, terminating threatening icicles and larger frozen clumps that could pose a threat to motorists, responding to calls from worried drivers.
Bjarte Mjeldstad of the Norwegian Public Roads Administration notes that he’s used to seeing more ice than this, and that in this particular area using a rifle is a rare approach.
“This is an opportunity to get the ice down simply. Otherwise we would have to use heavier equipment – dynamite or a crane,” Mjeldstad explains. The rifle is cheaper, and they don’t have to close the road down while their sharpshooter is at work.
Fanebust agrees that there is less ice than usual, but understands that it looks menacing to motorists. After about 60 shots, the pair decide it would better to come back the next day, when the ice will be ‘riper’ and easier to harvest.
Quirky, it doesn’t really top the summer story in the first link, which I hope you take the time to read. How many jobs allow a kid to say; “It’s important to note things like this, so that I can run away if I need to.” ?
While tracking down that old favorite, I came across another classic; yet another example of how, if it isn’t moose, some other Norwegian animal will grab headlines. This story (Cows rampage in Norway) also includes one of the best photos I ever saw on the job. I am still trying to find out more about the story behind it.