Sunday, May 12, 2013

It Ain't All Grand

Let me preface this by saying I am very happy in Australia.  I wouldn't change this experience for the world, and I have a great life here, but that doesn't mean I can't have an epic bitch and moan session every once in a while.

Ergo I present to you: my epic bitch and moan session.

Here are a few things that really blow about life Down Under:

The onions

Jeeeeeesus, they must pump their onions full of steroids here.  They are so strong, therefore it legitimately hurts to chop them.  I have had to leave the room before the skin was even off an onion because my eyes were welded shut.  I put cooked onions in virtually everything I cook, so this is pretty much a nightly problem for me.

Pro tip: Chewing gum while chopping onions will protect your eyes from the pain, but I find gum chewing pointless and low class so I don't keep it around.  I try to chew something when cutting Hulk onions but damn it they are painfully strong.

No jaywalking

Well, you physically can jaywalk but Brisbane actually employs "traffic" cops to bust pedestrians who jaywalk and give them a ticket.  In a country that is very American in its love affair with the motor vehicle this means pedestrians are more of a nuisance than a respected class of commuters.  So you sit and wait for the green man to appear.  And wait.  And wait.

The banking

Ok, that's unfair of me to say.  The banking in Australia has been, hands down, the best I have encountered in the world.  It was 100% quick and painless to set up an account (which I have described in detail before) and I've only been impressed with the customer service.  But here is one little quirk about the banking system here that is just downright nonsensical.

When using a debit or credit card you need to choose an account - checking, savings or credit.  This applies at Points of Sale, ATMs and anywhere else you might use a card to purchase something.  The thing is nobody knows what the hell the difference between these three choices are.  At least nobody I've met.  The bank also gives you 2 cards for your account - a Visa logo'd card and an "EFTPOS", non-logo'd card.  Now what in the hell is the use of a non Visa/MasterCard logo'd card?!  Now you have to keep track of two cards and which "account" you must "choose" for both of those cards.

The first time we used our shiny new debit card the store clerk asked, "Which account?"  We looked like right fools never having heard this question before.  "Um...the account with the money in it?" was our answer.  Wrong.  You need to selection 1 of the 3 options.  And if you pick the wrong one.....card declined; you look poor.  I always choose savings - even though the account is clearly a checking account and not a savings account - and that seems to consistently work for me. It just makes no sense.  What.  The.  Hell.

Fries with no ketchup

See that tiny cup of ketchup?  That'll run you 50 cents or more.  And you'll be lucky if purchasing ketchup (or "tomato sauce" as it's often called) is even an option at all.  Sometimes all you're offered is a tiny cup of "aioli".

Australians are crazy about aioli served with fries.  In this instance aioli translates to a boring, bland mayonnaise.  And the ketchup you can buy comes in this funky packet which looks clever...

...until you realize the end result is about 1/4 the amount of ketchup a normal packet would give you.  Fricking rip off when you've paid 70 cents for what amounts to 4 fries worth of ketchup.

The terms "chips" and "fries" are used interchangeably here, so when you see "Burger + chips" on the menu you're never quite sure if you'll get Doritos or slices of potatoes with your order.

If it's the latter you better pony up some extra cash if you want those fries to be palatable.  If poutine has taught us anything besides there is a benevolent god who loves us, it's that fries are merely a vehicle for various other delicious toppings. They are not delicious in and of themselves.  Give me my goddamn free ketchup!

It rains all the damn time

Let me be clearer: It rains all the damn time on the weekends.

You think Australia is a hot, dry country but that couldn't be farther from the truth (at least the coastal areas that are inhabited).  It downpours all the time in the fall, and this country floods more often than Europe and North America combined.

....but only on the weekends!

Seriously, Mother Nature is such a bitch.  You can spend the entire work week slogging away in your office under blue, cloudless skies.  The second the weekend hits BOOM torrential downpour.  It must cost the economy billions because nobody wants to get out and do things when the sky is falling.

But don't worry, come Monday the sun will be shining clear and bright it in the sky.

It fricking sucks so, so hard.

Solid deodorant is hard to come by

I don't know why North Americans are the only ones in this world who have realized that rolling a slimy, wet ball of goo under your arms is not an enjoyable personal hygiene experience.  

I've never bought a roll-on deodorant in my life and I'm not about to start now.  Hell, I'd rather use a 1970's can of aerosol it-might-actually-be-hair-spray deodorant than a disgusting roll-on.  So why are there 75 choices of roll-on deodorant at each store, and 1 or 2 of solid?!  Roll-ons are antiquated and disgusting so should be removed from the marketplace.

Everybody born after 1965

I better end my bitch and moan session now before I give myself a heart attack.  None of these pains in my ass are insurmountable.  I can always stock up on deodorant when I'm home in the US or spend my weekends holed up under a warm, dry roof, drinking.

But the worst thing of all is the distance.  This insurmountable problem will ultimately be the reason we leave this place that is perfect in every way (well, almost. See points A, B, C, D, E & F above).  It takes far too long and costs way too much to get back to the people we love the most.  I have refused to look at a globe since we got here, lest the reality of just how remote this place is really hits me.  A flat wall map I can do.  A globe?  Never.

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do.  So throw off the bowlines.  Sail away from the safe harbor.  Catch the trade winds in your sail.  Explore.  Dream.  Discover." - Mark Twain

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