June 16, 2015

Horse 1918 - It's A Rubbish Attitude

The place of my employment is in possibly the richest suburb per capita in the country. Parked in the streets and out on the roads, I regularly see a whole host of Audis, Mercedes and BMWs but even they are poverty spec cars in comparison to the Bentleys, Aston Martins and Ferraris in the suburb. I've even seen Lamborghinis and the odd Koenigsegg kicking about the place. Houses don't change hands for anything less than seven figures and eight figure sums aren't even remarkable anymore. This is a suburb where for many people, working is optional because they can live off the interest of the interest and still go to Europe in business class twice a year.
Yet despite this, shopfronts are often boarded up because the locals refuse to shop local and in consequence, the only businesses that seem to last are a small army of beauticians and hairdressers and coffee shops which cater for those same people for whom working is optional. By optional, I mean optional.

Exhibit A - Three Discarded Coffee Cups.

For people who do real actual work within this suburb, coffee is the work juice that keeps the brain ticking over, so that they can keep stoking the grate which keeps the fires of industry burning. I don't queue with the huddled and addled masses to buy a morning coffee because I decided a long time ago that rotating through Orange Pekoe, Irish Breakfast and Prince of Wales tea was a far better way to go because instead of spending the equivalent of the GDP of a small island nation, I could double my money by folding it it in half and putting it back in my pocket. For those people who need their daily dose of the world's favourite drug just to stop them banging their heads on their desks in utter frustration, their routine is to be in and out like a smash and grab raid but for the idle rentiers, the people for whom working is only optional and so they option not to, they can swan about with their dogs and friends and engage in smug chit chat about I don't know what. Even despite attempts to ban smoking in public places, these are the sorts of people who will use their previous cigarette to light the next one and it is no exaggeration to say that I've seen cigarette holders of the same ilk that Holly Golightly had in Breakfast At Tiffany's. Probably their dogs which can sometimes fit inside handbags also prefer a Gauloises to a Gitanes.
For the more adventurous who walk around in designer gym wear, they will take away their coffee to be sipped whilst on the move (where they can both see and be seen) but this is where Exhibit A comes in.

Coffee for these people is the perfect opportunity to display the little fragments of Italian that they learned in Milan during the winter and use it to make a poor barista jump through a million hoops just to make a Macchiato Doppio Distressi Profundo. Then once they've made a few telephone calls to several people, all of whom are named Darling, they'll abandon their coffee cups for someone else to put in the rubbish bin for them or the council rangers to collect.
The simple task of ordering a cup of coffee has not only become a 'make work' job for a Barista but also an unpaid chore for the unpaid tidy people of the world. One can only assume that these are the sorts of people who have others to clean up after them at restaurants and naturally expect that this will also happen as if by magic elsewhere in their lives.

Exhibit B - A Rubbish Bin.

Uncle Google's maps have told me that this is the nearest bin from where those coffee cups were lovingly cast aside. This particular rubbish bin is a staggering 9 metres away. Shock and horror! The next nearest rubbish bin is an amazingly tantalising 11 metres away. In an age where we put satellites into space, walking those last dozen metres must verge on the impossible.
I bet when the people who left these coffee cups lying on this concrete fixture and read the instruction "Please dispose of Thoughtfully", that they thoughtfully went "Ahh" before releasing the coffee cups into the wild. Actually, no I don't. I bet that they were placed there with as much thought as they gave to the person who was going to clean up after them. I didn't take any photographs of the delightful messages that people's dogs have left behind but within eyeshot of these coffee cups, there were eight; presumably lovingly left behind to be taken care of by the same magic processes.

Don't get me wrong, I completely accept that certain service industries exist because people of means want to delegate doing less than pleasant tasks to others in exchange for money. I'm afraid though that as society drifts towards a new gilded age which echoes the late Victorian and early Edwardian period in terms of capital ownership, that we're also drifting towards those same attitudes of carelessness and disdain for service workers. For as I picked up those three coffee cups and took them to the rubbish bin, I was told by a lady with one of those hairy white dogs with coal black eyes that I needn't bother cleaning up after someone else because "there are plebs who do that for us". The word "pleb" has other implications for me than just the name of a section of Roman citizenry and I kind of had to double guest whether this lady knew that I knew what she meant or whether she was totally ignorant to this.
The weird thing is that if you were to go to Dharuk or Tregear at the other end of the socioeconomic spectrum, I bet that without the inbuilt assumption that there weren't others to clean up after them then people don't naturally expect that this will also happen as if by magic elsewhere in their lives. I suspect that there's still pieces of rubbish and dog messages in Dharuk and Tregear but on a per capita basis, there's less of them just lying about. These people don't believe in magic.

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