I’ve been living in Australia for eleven years now. If you are Australian, don’t read beyond this sentence.
Psst, everyone else – listen up – Australians are seriously weird.
Let’s leave the national obsession with rubber sandals aka flip flops aka thongs to the one side.
Let’s not mention the fact that you cannot buy alcohol in the supermarkets.
Let’s forget that they shorten (or lengthen) every word that they possibly can and then add the letter ‘o’ at the end.
The really REALLY weird thing about Australians is the fact that they like sifting through other people’s rubbish and then taking bits of it home with them.
You will see mention in the above news report of Hard Rubbish Day aka Council Clean Up day. This, for non-Australian people, effectively means leaving all your difficult, unfriendly and inconvenient bits of garbage – Old fridges, mattresses, broken children’s toys, bits of tree limbs, buggered power tools – on the grassy bit outside your house which is called a ‘nature strip’. In this case nature is a misleading and deceptive euphemism for a bit of scabby grass with more than a few ants and some dog poo on it.
Twice a year Kogarah Council sticks a wee leaflet through our letter box that announces Council Clean Up Day. Rubbish is designated by its Heap Status. Heap Statuses range from A to C with detailed instructions on how to dispose of your rubbish as follows:
Bundled vegetation prunings and tree loppings bundled in one metre lengths, with a maximum width of 15 centimetres (just under 6 inches). Please tie with natural string.
Metal and white goods fridges, stoves and washing machines. Please remove all doors.
General household waste including small items of furniture, mattresses, lounges etc.
Bearing in mind that it is not possible to sell everything on eBay (more’s the pity) and that council rubbish tips can charge you $20.00 to dispose of an old mattress, theoretically Hard Rubbish Day is a good idea.
For us it starts off quite well – we blindfold the children and put their
books and toys rubbish out in bags and boxes in neat and tidy piles.
However, no sooner do we put our garbage out then someone turns up as if by magic and starts rifling energetically through it occasionally huckling it into the back of a white van and making off with it. The quickest huckle ever was for an old Mountain Buggy(R) pram that had finally given up under the strain of two children. It took 5 minutes from our garage to the nature strip to a waiting nearby white van.
It’s all a wee bit unseemly and embarrassing if not for the scavengers for me. What happens if I see someone picking up my throwaway items? Do I give them a cheery smile, shake their hands, thank them and tell them to enjoy my rubbish? Worse, what happens if they rifle through my stuff and find absolutely nothing of interest to them. What if, heavens forfend, my rubbish is not good enough to steal. What do I do then?
Worse still than the embarrassment of putting out unstealable rubbish is the way that rubbish collectors rifle through tightly packed boxes, sometimes tipping them over leaving your sub-standard, nobody-wants-me rubbish out in the rain feeling sorry for itself. This is usually when our half-deaf Russian neighbour yells at me that I am bringing down the tone of the neighbourhood.
Bearing in mind that I am posing for photographs in front of my own rubbish, he’s not that wrong.
It’s all a bit unseemly really and reminds me of an old Scottish joke that describes the differences between the denizens of Glasgow and Edinburgh:
In Edinburgh, if you see a table and chairs on the pavement is a Continental cafe.
In Glasgow, it’s a warrant sale.
Australian people – have you ever picked up anything interesting from a council clean up? Everyone else? Just smile and wave, smile and wave