Occasionally I morbidly contemplate what I would do if I was ever a war victim/refugee/migrant with just the clothes on my back. I am always amazed at the human spirit through the ages, where people who had everything or nothing adapt to having practically nothing or even less than what they had before. From extreme cases of many souls in one tiny room with no sanitation to stories of emigrants who worked two jobs at minimum wage to try give their children the education and upbringing they never had.
Even my parents’ generation understood sacrifice. Foregoing fancy holidays and fancy restaurants, they ate what was cheap and seasonal. They took a break on Sunday because the government legally stated work was not allowed. Even then, these ‘rest periods’ were occupied with fixing thing so you could make do with what you had rather than acquire new. With spending time with your children in simple pursuits near the home. When even a trip to the park or the airport to watch planes take off was exciting.
I look at my generation and the ones below me and I shake my head. Our dependence on convenience foods. On the assumption a holiday is ‘owed’ to us and not just a day off, but a proper flight in the air to a far flung destination. Eating out in a restaurant is the norm and oh, no, not fast food at a melamine table. Restaurants with proper cutlery and tablecloths.
The new guy at work has just driven this home, to the point where it’s not just me that has wondered how he does it.
Every day he buys lunch, saying he can ‘claim it back’ as a contractor. But given you only get part of the tax back, I always found this to be a pointless saving against just making lunch which costs less than the tax you would ‘reclaim’ and the bought lunch combined . He promptly went to Ikea and bought a load of furnishings and household goods. I know this because he landed up in a huge argument with them about delivery on the phone that I had to listen to for a week. And if you took delivery, you bought enough you couldn’t carry it home, even in a big blue bag.
He hasn’t yet opened up a local bank account or been paid via cash cheque although he has been in the country for a few weeks. Despite this and complaints that ‘everyone is travelling except me’, he’s been going out drinking and is off for the long weekend to the Fringe. (Granted accommodation is paid for there.) So all of these expenses come out an overseas bank account with added charges for forex transfer.
I can’t tell if I’m the idiot who tried to hit the ground running when I arrived from overseas and caught buses instead of trains and missed a whole series of holidays with friends as I needed to build a local bank balance first, thereby missing out on a whole series of life experiences or if he is for his carpe diem I could die tomorrow attitude.
And if the world was to explode, would he adapt or continue as he does or am I just being paranoid imagining it could?
Lo, the ant and the grasshopper.