Monday, September 16, 2013

Customer service, capitalism, used car salesmen and lawyers.

The problem isn't that I have these newfound viewpoints of Australians, the problem is that I can state them so venomously.

Put in another context, I could probably turn them into a fairly good comedy routine.  (And honestly, it's something I'm considering.)

C'mon.  If you're really honest with yourselves, "fuck it," is a pretty good interpretation!  How may of you REALLY believe "Jamaica, no problem!" MEANS no problem!  Same thing, right?!  Same thing, only most people don't appreciate laughing at themselves as much as they enjoy laughing at others.

 "No worries, mates" is the general state of customer service here.  It sucks.  This is fine, it sucked in Germany too.  But all in different ways.  And, yes, I was raised in the most customer-service oriented country in the world.  Capitalism is so misunderstood by socialists.  It only works if you...well, work, quite frankly.  And then you work for the customers, not because Americans inherently love their customers more than Australians do, but because we have been taught to do so.  We learn it without knowing it but the fact behind it is that serving the customer brings in more money in the long run than telling them that they are wrong and worth shit (which is the German way) or chatting with them about their lovely family but then entirely ignoring the work you were supposed to be doing for them (the Queensland way.)

People here aren't going to work for you as hard as Americans, but they are going to be a hell of a lot nicer to you while they aren't doing what you ask than Americans are.  It isn't that Americans aren't nice, they are often just too busy working to take the time to be nice.  It isn't that Australians CAN'T work, they just haven't ever really had a need to.  Life is really really good here.  And it really doesn't usually matter that things aren't getting done on time, or properly, or at all really.  And they are used to this - they really DON'T worry about it, mates, and no, you might not get what you asked for, or when you asked for it and most likely it won't work when you get it or will break down fairly quickly and need to be replaced, but damn, if they aren't nice to talk to all those times you are together not dealing with what you really should be dealing with.  Americans are so darn busy getting it done, they miss a lot of good social time doing it right the first time.  Of course, they don't have the social services Australians have to rely on when their business goes bust due to lack of a business plan, accounting skills, budgeting, short term planning, long term goals and customer service. 

Oh shit.  Am I saying that hardships exist in order for us to become better people?  Friggin' evolutionist.

On closer reflection (oh no, REALLY?,you've thought MORE about this?!), people have more commonalities than differences.

I made a list of the people I have been having issues with.  (Yes, I DO these  things.  Yes, I know this isn't normal.)

1. Used car salesmen.
2. Real estate agents.
3. Landlords.
4. Damon's old boss.
5. ONE school principal.

To make the list truly universal, I would have to add lawyers, but I've always gotten along with lawyers.  I understand lawyers.  My guess is lawyers dissect things as much as I do.  And make lists.  They try to solve a puzzle, they try to win an argument through reasoning, logical or otherwise.  They try to win a game by playing with the rules.  This is all infinitely cool to me: understand the ins and outs of the rules and then play with them to suit your own purpose.  The rest of the world just misunderstands what being a lawyer is all about and expects justice and fairness to play into it. 

The rest of the list is another comedy routine.

It beats being vituperative any day!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Vituperative Reflections on A Nonconfrontation Nation

It says something about my state of mind when a close friend of mine (originally from Hungary)has to look up 'vituperative' on her iphone in order to understand my apology for my behaviour.  I also wanted to see if I was using it correctly, or if quite possibly, I had made it up.

"Vituperative:  bitterly sarcastic, harshly abusive censure."  Her phone said it better.  But some synonyms would be: abusive, contumelious,  invective, opprobrious and scurrilous."

In plain English, I have been a real bitch lately.

The problem is I don't know how angry I am until I open my mouth. 

This has been the month of such gems as:

"Well, of course they don't have a gifted and talented team to send to the F1 competition.  What are they going to do, send the Indians?  They can't do that; they sent them last year."  (This about our old school and about the four boys they sent last year, three of who were recent migrants to Australia.)

The fact that I retain my racist comments for my closest friends, use them sparingly, and then only to bitterly criticise the Queensland state schools, isn't really much of an excuse.  Neither is the fact that the racism is POSITIVE for the darker race and condemning of the white Australians.

Vituperative, right?!

It's also been the month of:

"You don't HAVE to be Australian to be stupid."  (This from Damon!)  

But me even thinking, "but it helps", is, once again, vituperative. 

(In Damon's defence, he was just saying that people OTHER than Queenslanders can be..oh dear, that explanation isn't helping any is it?!)

We can insult people more specifically as well.

"I swear my IQ drops by at least 50 points when I cross over the bridge into Lawnton."  This said by a friend of ours a while back, but admittedly something I think about every single time I cross that bridge. 


Look, I haven't posted and I've tried to hide it from myself.   Because I DO love it here and I DO think the people here can be among the greatest, kindest and most generous in the world.

Some of the kindest people I know are German too, though, and I don't have trouble tearing down their system, do I?

It's what happens after a few years, my other immigrant friends tell me.  You don't see it at first, because everyone IS so kind and because things DO work better here than in most other places in the world.  This is a phenomenal place to live and we are all grateful to be here.

But it doesn't mean you don't start noticing some things after a while. 

This is a nonconfrontation nation and they will tell it to you with a smile, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't be reading beyond it.  Perhaps it's a British thing.   There are unwritten social niceties that a blunt German or straightforward American aren't going to get. One thing you can say about Germans is they DO tell it like it is!  And Americans are raised on confrontation and argument; we call it critical thinking.  I thought the whole nonconfrontation thing - meaning one thing but saying another, just not saying anything and hoping it goes away - was passive aggressive (or something limited to the military and politics) but I think, here, it is just a way of being polite and avoiding conflict.  Again, something Americans really don't worry about.

In short, this is what Australians (or maybe just s/e Queenslanders) REALLY mean:

"We work to live, not live to work,"  means " I don't want to work."

"Family first,"  means "I am taking care of myself."

And, "no worries, mate" means "Fuck it."

And, oh dear, THIS is EXACTLY what I mean by 'vituperative.'

And if our education system was working better, you could have read the title of this blog and saved yourself the bitter acrimony.

But then again, you've already heard the crappy education rants.