Thursday, 1 September 2011

DIY... we trust you.

Every city and town in the world has a mix of honest and dishonest people. I'm not sure about you but I have dealt with my fair share of sneaky Russians in my life and have been left with a cautious attitude, especially towards strangers. Perhaps it is because of this cautious attitude that I have been absolutely amazed at how trustworthy these Australians are.

You are probably expecting me to talk about the fact that few houses here have fences and burglar guards and this is because it is a relatively safe country to live in. While this is great to see, my point is actually elsewhere.

Lets start with the trams that are found in Melbourne. These trams are run on a kind of trust system. You can purchase a ticket either on the tram or from one of the various stores around the city. Once you've boarded with your ticket, at some point during your trip you are supposed to feed it into a machine to date stamp it. Your daily, weekly or monthly ticket is then valid on or from that date for the specified duration. I usually buy a week ticket, stamp it when I first use it and, as long as its on me, never have to produce it again unless I'm asked to. There are the occasional ticket inspectors who ride the trams once in a blue moon but even then, they barely ask to check your ticket. If you are caught you'll be slapped with $180 fine and many a dirty look from your fellow passengers. Trust me, the dirty looks are worse than the dent to your pocket.

I have been on the receiving end of those dirty looks when I made the catastrophic mistake of boarding a rather full tram and standing on the steps as opposed to on the main floor. I waited blissfully for the tram to go and then, nothing. The tram did not budge. One by one my fellow passengers turned and began to glare at me as if I was pedalling drugs to 5 year old children. With the reaction speed of a Manatee it eventually dawned on me that I was at fault. I took one step up onto the main level and with that universe was returned back to normal. As I hung my head in shame and the Gov distanced herself from me, the tram rolled on.

Note to self: Dont stand on the tram steps.

Coles is to Australia what Checkers and Spar is to South Africa. We had taken a whirl around the shop to stock up on supplies and then joined one of the lines to pay. The line next to us was a little shorter and the Gov mentioned that we should join it. I explained that we couldn't as that line was for self payment or self check out or whatever you want to call it. The blank look on the Gov's face prompted further elaboration. The trusting people who run the trams must also work for Coles. If you have cash on you when you are checking out you can head to one of the self service tills, scan your products, pop your money in and leave. Clearly I am not the only person in this relationship with a little criminal side to them as the Gov, who's jaw was now slack, said "imagine the possibilities".

So there you have it. Apart from the Gov and I you will mostly find honest, law abiding and trustworthy people in Australia.

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