The other day I got a call from an insurance company that offered me two options: I could go see them and they would make me an offer for the insurance, or they could "send a man" to me. A third option was of course also available — to decline as I had done many times before. Life had been pretty quiet lately which made the idea of a visit from a stranger seem kind of exciting. Somehow, it felt fitting — fragile and slightly uncomfortable, just how I had been feeling. I’d also been thinking an unusual amount about life insurance recently, so I took this as a clear sign to get things done. And then he arrived, the insurance agent, at noon one day. Exactly as I’d pictured him, in a suit and with a briefcase — which was soft, not hard like I’d imagined it. He stood before me, younger than I’d expected, his dark grey suit shining slightly – like damp concrete. Before I could say it was unnecessary to remove his shoes, he’d slipped them off and stepped onto the parquet in his light brown socks. I offered him coffee, which he accepted. Before he arrived, I’d broken chocolate into pieces in a little bowl. Standing in front of the bowl in the kitchen, it became clear to me that the chocolate was too intimate, too personal, almost rude. I shouldn’t put it out. I walked into the living room with the coffee and noticed that he wasn’t looking around. It would have been fine with me if he had. If he wanted to ask about the books, the pictures on the walls, or the stones on the window sill. This is probably something they’re required to do when they go into people’s homes — to pretend they’re not quite there. Somehow it didn’t really fit his character. He wasn’t the closed type, more transparent, I’d even go as far as saying he was “emotionally available” — which is a very good quality, but of course not really necessary for our interaction. The light in the living room revealed that he was a redhead, which was a pleasant surprise. I hadn’t noticed that in the windowless hallway. We sat opposite one another at the dining room table, each with our computers in front of us, playing some kind of insurance poker, where I couldn’t tell him what my terms were with my insurance company. My favourite part was when he walked me through the basics of health insurance and explained the four different disease categories to me. The insurance companies organise the diseases into these categories — in consultation with doctors, I guess. He said: You go blind. It doesn’t matter how you go blind, whether you lose your eye in an accident or develop an eye disease, you just go blind and you get ten million. But then later on, you go deaf and you don’t get a thing because deafness is in the same category as blindness. If you get cancer though, you’ll get another ten million because cancer is in a different category. He was so calm and clear when he said all this that I felt all at once mesmerized and distressed. In the end, the offer he made was only slightly better value than what I already had, which clearly disappointed him. He added some extra benefits and I said I’d “think about it” and at the same time, I wondered if there was a more boring phrase — or a more boring attitude towards life — so I added, “though I’m aware that neither disease nor death gives you a chance to think about it.” He said nothing, but bent down on his left knee to put on his shoes. I saw under the sock on his left foot and it had rubber grips — like children’s socks — to not slip on the parquet.
Margrét Bjarnadóttir (1981) is a multidisciplinary artist working in the fields of dance, performance and visual arts. In the past years she has moved between choreography, photography, text work, drumming, glass cutting, video pieces and writing. Margrét´s most recent works include the choreography for Björk´s Cornucopia and the guitar ballet, No Tomorrow, which she created with Ragnar Kjartansson and Bryce Dessner for The Iceland Dance Company.