The perfect job
POSTED BY NEIL AT 1:01 AM
Sometimes people ask me what I would like to do, if I wasn't a writer. Normally, I do not know. There's not much that I'm good at apart from making things up. But today, I read about the other job I could do.
No one thought that Icelanders might have some natural gift for smelting aluminum, and, if anything, the opposite proved true. Alcoa, the biggest aluminum company in the country, encountered two problems peculiar to Iceland when, in 2004, it set about erecting its giant smelting plant. The first was the so-called “hidden people”—or, to put it more plainly, elves—in whom some large number of Icelanders, steeped long and thoroughly in their rich folkloric culture, sincerely believe. Before Alcoa could build its smelter it had to defer to a government expert to scour the enclosed plant site and certify that no elves were on or under it. It was a delicate corporate situation, an Alcoa spokesman told me, because they had to pay hard cash to declare the site elf-free but, as he put it, “we couldn’t as a company be in a position of acknowledging the existence of hidden people.”
I want to certify places as elf-free. Or, sometimes, not elf-free, just because I can.