If you walk through the city center of Bergen in Norway, chances are you’ll run into Maybritt, 32, and Kåre Morten, 43. They’re always around and they stand out because they’re ALWAYS in matching outfits. They collect bottles and have become the mascots of Bergen. I just walked up to them on the street one day and asked if they wanted to chat. Even though it was a boiling Thursday afternoon, both Kåre Morten and Maybritt had stayed true to their code and were both dressed in all black. Maybritt did most of the talking and started out by giving me a sheet of paper with the days of the week and their corresponding colors.
Vice: What’s up with the color coordination?
I draped each day of the week in a different color so that it would be easier to tell them apart. We dress in blue on Mondays, because Mondays are blue. On Tuesdays our clothes are green, to symbolize the way of nature and how everything has a beginning and an end. We love oranges, and that’s why Wednesday is orange. We just love oranges. Thursday is a heavy day, it’s placed in the middle of a long week, and sometimes it seems like the week will never end when we’ve reached Thursday. That’s why we wear black on Thursdays. We never wear anything else, not even on a hot day like this. In Christian tradition, purple is a color symbolizing a time of waiting, and our clothes are purple on Fridays because the long wait for the weekend will soon be over. Saturdays are happy and warm like the sun, so we brighten up the day with yellow clothes. Sundays are pink and are reserved for spending time in church.
How do you make a living?
Collecting bottles. On a good week we can make up to 30 euros. Our turf reaches from the Galleriet shopping mall all the way to the streets of Gågaten and Strandkaien. We have a good relationship with all the store owners in this area. They are our friends, and we always exchange words with them when we are out walking.
Is there any rivalry among the bottle collectors?
The Chinese are collecting a lot of bottles, but we try to avoid them because they’ll say nasty things. They really want the bottles. But it doesn’t bother us—we are celebrities. I was on national TV back in 2002 already, and we’ve both been in newspapers, on the radio, and on the internet all over the country. And there was a documentary about us called
Kabal i hjerter
[“Patience in Hearts”] in cinemas all over Norway.
Have you seen the movie? Do you like it?
A person with Down syndrome and an extra chromosome gets angry in a flash, and some of the things my mum said about us collecting bottles made me angry.
But apart from that, we like it.
Maybritt is living with her mother, and her mother prefers that she stays there or maybe gets an apartment of her own in the same building. I can understand that, because sometimes mothers have to be strict. But we want to get married! On September 28 it was three years since we got engaged. We even got rings. We’re saving money to get married, and we want to get our own apartment. If someone were to come up to us on the street and ask us why we are doing all this, wearing these colors and collecting these bottles, we would simply reply: Because we love each other.
Photos (clockwise from top left): Tor Høvik/Bergens Tidende; Rune Sævig/Bergens Tidende; Lars Vaular; Rune Sævig/Bergens Tidende; Jan M. Lillebø/Bergens Tidende; Oy Film; Silje Katrine Robinson/Bergens Tidende