Wednesday, 25 May 2011

First Impressions

I arrived in Melbourne in a complete fog after an 18 hour journey from Seattle.  While I was able to get some sleep on the plane, if you can call it that, I felt like I was walking around drunk and dizzy.  I am sooooo incredibly thankful to our dear friends here, Mick and Paula, for picking us up from the airport and taking us around from place to place that first day.  They have a 5-year-old daughter so they were qualified to deal with two Americans that were operating at the capacity of a 5-year-old that day!  They oversaw us in getting new mobile phones (notice I said "mobile" not cell), helped us to get to the bank to get an account and then ensured that we were fed and dropped off at our hotel.

No Worries:
Funny story about getting set up here....  To get phones, we needed a bank account and a local residency.  To get a bank account, you needed a local residency and phone and to get a residency, you needed a local bank account and phone.  They work on a "points" system.  You get a certain number of points for having a passport, additional points for having a local address, etc....  We managed to get mobile phones because our friend, and Evan's new boss "vouched" for us.  We then proceeded to walk over to the local bank with a WAD of cash to deposit so that we could open an account in order to rent a place.  The first bank very kindly told us that their tellers were busy and to come back in a day or so.  She was perfectly polite but did not seem to have any worries whatsoever about sending business elsewhere.  WHAT???  A bank did not want a GIANT WAD of CASH??!!!  This was perplexing.  It is not that they did not want our money, they were just busy with other things, were in no hurry and were not desperate to get more money.  We decided to wander up a block to their competition, who gladly took our money and opened an account.  No worries!

Smaller May be Better:
On my first full day here, Evan was scheduled to meet with his first client in his new job.  I stayed back and the hotel and worked while watching TV.  They had interrupted the morning show that was on to announce that one Australian soldier had been killed in Afghanistan.  My first reaction was, "this is breaking news?" followed by "wow, that is amazing that one life can be honored so directly here." If the US news were to interrupt broadcasts each time a US Soldier was killed, we would see very little else on TV.  The total population of Australia is only about two-thirds of the total population of the state of California.  It was nice to know that for the service men and women who go over there to support the US troops and to do their part in the "war on terrorism," that their lives can be honored should the worst happen.  This announcement continued to make headline news over the next two days.

As I began to ponder this notion of maybe smaller is better I thought about all that I had recently learned about their public healthcare system (it really works well), their public transportation, and their society as a whole (low crime, easy life).  Maybe the reason that it does work is that there are simply fewer people complaining, asking for exceptions, abusing the system etc...  My business experience has so far shown me that the more people you put on a problem, the more problems arise, and often, those new problems have little to do with solving the initial problem itself.  So much in the US has to be handled at the higher levels and so many people are competing with each other to have their specific needs met.  Maybe breaking it down to smaller segments makes things much more manageable...?  I guess I will see how things "really" work here as I establish my residency and begin to receive services that I can then compare to what I am used to in the States.  

Stay tuned.  :)

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