Friday, January 26, 2007

Waiting while the Tractor refuels

This post prompted by Dirk posting from Vietnam.

Many years ago in another era of his life, Mine Host snapped this photo of a tractor parked by the main highway between Saigon and Cambodia.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Think first, before you let the Boss Down

Halfway through mealtime on Saturday night the chef walks casually through the dining area, carrying his tools.

"I'm outta here" he informs Mine Host"I've had enough of this town".

"Can't you at least wait until service is finished? It's not long to go now?"

"Nope, I've had enough of it, can't stand the town, can't stand the people, I'm going now!"

... with freshly abandoned customers to worry about Mine Host pays no more attention to the departing chef.

There are only a few orders to finish off & the cleaning up to do. The grill chef for the night is well able to handle it. No harm done. For tonight.

Going to make things interesting for a few days though.

Later that night the Head Chef phones from the staff quarters: "He means it, I can't talk sense into him, he is going to book himself on the first flight tomorrow!"

Even later the Head Chef phones again: "He can't afford the airfare, it is more than a week's pay, he hasn't any money, he has made a one-week advance purchase, and needs to work the whole week to pay for it"

In the morning the chef ambles in ever so nonchalantly for breakfast, & offhandedly announces to Mine Host that he has decided to "stay on" for a week, to make the transition "easier" for Mine Host.

Mine Host, (who has known this was coming since the moment the chef walked off the job) informs the chef that breakfast is for "staff only" and that the chef had removed himself from the staff the moment he walked off the job mid-shift.

Also, could the chef please have his rooms in the staff quarters vacated and spotless within the hour?

Friday, January 12, 2007

Skills Shortage

Dental appointments require considerable advance notice.

A small piece of tooth broke off yesterday.

The denist used by Mine Host has closed his practice.

Phone calls to other dentists (up to 400km distant) were as thus:

(This is on the 11th of January)

"... certainly sir, our first availalbe appointment slot is in September, which dentist do you normally see?"
"Er... I used to visit Dr. Dedication, but he has closed his practice"
"Oh I see, you are not a patient of ours, I'm sorry we don't take new patients, goodbye"

This conversation could have taken place any time in the past few years.

In the case of a dental emergency, a dentist will usually see a patient within 3 weeks.

Is Australia badly short of dentists? Or are they all laying around near Bondi Beach & the Gold Coast, bleating that there is a "shortage" of patients?

The correct answer is a bit of both. Before he closed, Dr. Dedication answered Mine Host's query as to why, when he was booked out 7 or 8 months in advance, & working all the hours he could, didn't he hire a dentist or two to help him?

He answered that he had grown tired of advertising, had even been offering an equal share of the practice to graduates, ("I can't offer any more than that") and that the other dental practices in town had been doing the same.

What few respondees there were, upon discovering the location of the practice, terminated enquiries immediately, without even enquiring how much it would be possible to earn.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Innumeracy (part 2)

A staff member had borrowed to buy a car. Quite common, most of our society does the same.

The car was to be paid off in weekly installments.

The borrower was very pleased to have a car, and could well afford one.
However, here is where the attitude of the borrower differed from what one would expect.

Very little direct connection was drawn between the convenience of possessing a car & the weekly repayments.

The weekly payments were resented, as they used up money which could be better used (for longer drinking sessions, or getting new tattoos, and so on.)

Not making a payment was tried, this prompted considerable ire from the finance company, leading to an increase in the awe with which the finance company was held.

Some time passed & with it came a subsidence of the awe in which the finance company was held.

Eventually came a week when the borrower spent their meagre pay on "more important" things. Meagre yes, for the borrower was apt to not turn up for work. Work is resented, while wages are not.

The connection between "work" & "pay" is starkly demonstrated each time the borrower fails to turn up for work. This has lead to a grasping of the "no work = no wages" principle. A principle which is resented as equally as the "no payments = no car" principle.

Many tricks have been tried to get around the "no work = no pay" conundrum. None of the alternatives to "working" mangage to produce any actual "wages" and the borrower (resentfully) turns up to work most of the time. This is called "character" (or lack of).

There has however been more success with the "no payments = no car" dilemma.

The week when the borrower spent all their pay on "more imporant" stuff, they apprehensively phoned the finance company to explain (due to lingering memories of the ire apt to be exhibted by the finance company when no payment is forthcoming).

When the finance company learned that the borrower had been quite ill, and had large medical bills "this week" it was remarkably understanding, and allowed the payment to be deferred.

Armed with this new knowledge that payment was not necessary, the borrower underwent a change, suddenly seeing things on the bright side, for a time even turning up to work cheerfully and without prompting.

The finance company, suddenly confronted with a barrage of illnesses, family emergencies, unexpected hardships etc on the part of the borrower, was very understanding and agreed to endless deferrments of payment.

The borrower, thrilled at how easily hoodwinked the finance company was proving to be, embarked on spending the newly released funds. Parties were held, electronic luxury goods were purchased, late night booze-ups became more common, etc etc.

In conversation with the borrower, a concerned co-worker discovered that the borrower had no comprehension that all monies borrowed ultimately must be repaid, and that every skipped payment was adding to the interest bill, and adding to the term of the loan.

"But its a two-year loan, next June I'm finished with the payments, & then they can't do anything to me!" was the cheerful response, demonstrating total ignorance of the concept of debt & repayment.

The borrower still quite often goes about spending the amount of the repayment, making sure to phone the finance company to explain the illness/funeral/sick nephew. (Although this only has to be kept up until "next June")

The notion that the finance company hasn't actually been outsmarted is cheerfully treated with mild scorn.