Outsourcing busts ghosts

In recent days we have seen that ghosts and Norway’s public institutions are not a good match. Either total pandemonium occurs, and associated damage; or someone panics and calls in a psychic to exorcise the place, and the authorities have to make embarrassed explanations about how public funds and effort really do not regularly go into ghostbusting.

How reassuring it is then, to find a story with these familiar ingredients but with a much happier ending. This time the setting is Steinkjer, in the by now familiar county of Nord-Trøndelag. The intrepid newspaper Trønder-Avisa is once again specter stalking.

The site is unnamed, only described as a municipal institution, one which has both staff and residents. The newspaper reporter lists up a classic catalogue of spooky phenomena that has persisted for years – at least eight since ‘inexplicable incidents’ have begun.

Doors shut themselves at night, shadows and equally incorporeal figures have been seen, sudden cold spots appear in rooms and the sound of a sawmill heard. (OK, the sawmill is not a cliché.) Ever more of the people who live and work there have noted the same phenomena, if the paper is to believed, independently of each other.

But at the end of last year, things came to a head, and the residents could tolerate it no longer. A number of them have had ‘close encounters’ with ‘the spirits’ and were getting sick and tired of yelling at them to ‘get out’. According to our leading apparition journal, the ghosts were not felt to be outright evil, but unpleasant, and many were being woken and literally losing sleep over the disturbances.

This time standard bureaucratic protocol was followed. Instead of some nervous functionary flying off the handle and hiring in a psychic, the local authority was notified and after a briefing with those at the institution, the request to contact a ghost remover was cleared.

“I can confirm that the municipality gave the green light for the staff, on their own private initiative, to contact a person who would try to remove the phenomenon,” local representative Per Arne Olsen told the newspaper. And then the crucial difference between failure and success in public exorcism: “Not a single crown of municipal money has been used on this, we don’t have the funds for that. The only thing we have done is to give the green light.”

And success it was. A female healer visited the institution and ‘drove out the spirits’. The staff and residents reportedly considered the operation a success and were looking forward to quieter times at the institution.

Steinkjer councilor Torunn Austheim said that any time there is unease in such an institution it is a serious matter, and that she hoped that this private initiative to solve the problem worked. Because though Norway may be a country with great faith in social, community solutions, ghosts are a challenge for the private sector.

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