Wednesday, 3 April 2013

This is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things

Suitcases full of kids books, completely unattended in a playground, and no one is "liberating" them.

I got an email from my mum this morning saying that my plant holder had been stolen. She had decided to use it, and put it on the front porch in preparation to buy some plants for it. The next morning it was gone. That kind of thing happens a lot in Australia. We have a sort of cultural belief that anything we can take is pretty much free game. Consequently, although there is really no need for anyone to own a traffic cone, you will find that (at least in Tasmania), pretty much every house-hold has one. I mean, they just leave them lying around at road-works unattended! What are we supposed to do, NOT take them? I remember a friend of mine debriefing one day after a lengthy argument in which she had to dissuade her mother from stealing a port-a-potty. It was in a field without a gate on it, and her mother had a hard time driving away without it, despite having no where to put it and no use for it. The thing is, it was RIGHT THERE and steal-able. It just seemed like a waste not to take it. Marshmallow-sensei wrote a great post a while back about 飲み放題all-you-can-drink. You can get very cheap all-you-can-drink at restaurants, bars, karaoke… pretty much anywhere in Japan. People drink about as much as they would if they were paying for each drink. We English-speaking foreigners on the whole treat it as more of a challenge. We tend not to stop drinking until we are physically incapable of lifting glass to mouth… which is one of the reasons we could never have all-you-can-drink in Australia. I love the little freebies the nicer cafes offer in toilets here. Face blotting papers, mouth-wash, cue tips, sanitary pads and even sometimes disposable toothbrushes, all free for the taking. My first instinct (and I am sure I am not the only Australian with this reaction) is to stuff my pockets full of this stuff. I mean, it’s FREE! Sure, I have no use for twenty disposable toothbrushes, but IT’S ALL FREE! …which is why cafes in Australia would never have stuff like that available.
Taken from The Good Girl. When I was in uni, everyone I know had this sort of thing in their lounge-room.
 The funny thing is, I had never noticed this about Australians or thought of it as a national characteristic until I moved to Japan. But looking back on it… if you are an Australian, or specifically Tasmanian, think about it. Did you ever have a milk crate? Furniture made entirely of milk crates? A flog-me-light (one of those portable flashing lights they leave near road works)? A pot-plant taken from a mall? Toilet paper pinched from the public loo? Anything taken from dumpster diving or big garbage day? A dozen sets of free toiletries from the last hotel you stayed at or aeroplane you flew on?
Yeah. I thought so. And that is why we can’t have nice things.

One nice thing you can have is the opportunity to participate in a blog carnival however ;)
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  1. Oh, this made me laugh so hard. I think for once, Aussies are worse than Americans. I know that some people here do this, but I don't think it's nearly as bad...
    Although, to be fair, toiletries in hotels are meant to be taken. :)

    1. Similarly, I think most Australians would not view taking traffic cones etc as "stealing", because they are just lying around. I am sure the person who stole my plant holder would never dream of breaking into a house and taking something, but the plant holder was on the front porch and the gate was open; virtually the same thing as giving it away, right? ;)

  2. Hallo! I've just discovered your blog and I've read several old posts with a smile which turned into a grin when I read this one.

    I'm from South Africa, where anything that isn't chained to a wall and protected by Rottweilers gets taken ... and sometimes the wall and the Rottweilers disappear, too. We call it "redistribution of wealth".

    Japan still startles me, although I've lived here for several years. I've even lost my kleptomaniac tendencies when it comes to abandoned pens. :)

    1. Hi, thanks for commenting!
      Yes, in Australia the pens at the post office and banks are literally chained to the desk...


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