I had to make a trip to the tip, sorry, Recycling Centre, at the weekend. Having a yearly clear out of the garage of those things that have sat there for 3+ years and never had a use found for them. Anyway, twas whilst I was off-loading my stuff into the appropriate bins under the watchful eye of council staff, that the sheer absurdity of it came home to me. We pay inordinate amounts in council tax, and my yearly bill has more than doubled in 12 years, and yet WE have to do more. Time was, you chucked all your rubbish in a bin in the back yard, and once a week, the ‘binners’ came round the back, picked up your bin, emptied it, and brought it back. And from what I remember, rates as they were in those days, were relatively reasonable. And yet now, we have sky-high council tax and what happens: we sort the rubbish for them, into different bins (either at home or at the tip); we have to transport it to the point of collection (front of house or tip); and have to do all this correctly under pain of extra fines if we get it wrong. How the hell did we sleep-walk into this situation. Who decided that public servants meant “we sit back and levy charges, and the public (saps) do all the work for us”?? And to add insult to injury, they sell the stuff on and make more money. They should be paying US to give it to them.
And when you start looking at other aspects of modern life, this model of “the person paying the bill does the work” extends to all avenues. Think of the modern petrol station. Under the guise of “convenience”, you have to fill your tank and then walk to pay. At one time, in a far-off world many years ago, the assistant came to you, filled up your tank, took your money and brought back your change, all without you leaving the comfort of your car. They might even wash your windscreen if you required it. In those far off days when ‘service’ meant something, it wasn’t prefixed with ‘self’
Another example is super markets. You get a trolley/basket, fill it up and then go to the checkout (manned or not). You then EMPTY the trolley, so that the checkout assistant, who is more like an automaton than a person, can go through a left-right motion which hopefully records and calculates the correct price for your goods. And wow-betide you if you have an item with no bar-code. You have to wait whilst another automaton, with a sigh, will go and find the same item but with the requisite bar-code. All the this time you have to suffer the tuts and sighs of fellow shoppers who have to wait whilst your minor over-sight is rectified. Once the ritual of handing over your hard-earned is complete, you then have to re-load said items back onto the trolley and transport to the car, where you EMPTY them yet again. You the get home and empty them out of the car into your cupboards. Now is it just me or is that an inordinate amount of work just to move the weekly groceries from the shop shelves to your cupboard shelves. Time was, you went into your local shop, left em with a list, and came back later to pick them up. They would be nicely packed and bagged and all you had to do was transport them home. There was also the mobile shop which would come round to your street, so the transit time was even shorter. That was convenience, that was service. And you would think in these days of hand-wringing about co2 and exhaust from cars, this sort of thing would be encouraged. But it would seem that the super-markets still manage to planning permission for large out of town stores and have even taken over the role of corner shop, the very corner shops they put out of business in the first place with their aggressive pricing policies.
I’m sure there are other examples, but these are the most immediately obvious. How on earth did we let this stupidity happen?? Answers on a postcard to the usual address please.