Australian politicians talk about job creation while at the same time we have the choice to run through an automatic checkout and not have to make any contact with another human, save for the person who checks our signature against the one on the back of the Visa card.
It is with this sort of employment efficiency conditioning that we have noticed various degrees of, for want of a better phrase, labour intensiveness in Valpo.
While we’re allowing our bodies to adjust to the different foods here we’re still playing it safe and buying all our food from the major supermarkets. There’s plenty of time for culinary courage later through the year.
Fruit and vegetables have to be weighed and tagged at the fruit and veg section and on one occasion we had to go to a separate cashier to pay for our cooked chicken before choosing one. Not only have we not seen any automatic checkouts but there is usually an army of teens waiting to pack your groceries for you. I upset the system by taking my own plastic bags and asking the packer not to double bag the shopping. They really do love their plastic bags here.
We’ve been in this apartment for four nights and in that time the rubbish truck has been down our street three times. If I aim it right I can throw the rubbish bag from the balcony into the back of the truck. I don’t know where the rubbish goes to once it is collected.
Even though there are numerous bins around, littering is widely practised across all generations. A slow moving band of, usually, elderly people are employed to sweep the streets clean. I’m not sure which came first, the litterbugs or the sweepers but somehow I think they need each other.
There are many different companies that sell gas for cooking and heating and they drive through the streets with one person in the cab and another on the back of the truck rattling a tune out on the empty gas cylinders. This is like the music from an ice-cream truck. Anyone needing gas can come out and buy a cylinder. I’m not the best judge of this as I can only sing in three keys (flat, monotone and off) but no matter where we are in the city it sounds like the same tune. The other day we did witness our first sign on employment efficiency. A gas truck rattled around the corner and had two speakers on top of the cab piping out a recording of someone clanging out a tune on gas cylinders.
Perhaps job creation isn’t such a difficult problem after all.