Saturday, October 30, 2010

Brain Drain

Sometimes a thought crosses my mind that I should just shut up. And smack myself on the head. And simply not care. In no particular order.

I might possibly the only idiot out there who gets really annoyed by stuff that's happening around. Some get upset about people eating animals or wearing fur or crossing the street at a red light or littering or smoking in the public transportation or not apologizing for breaking your toe with their high heel or whatever. Human stupidity is what does the trick for me.

Not the I'm-a-teen-brat-and-I-don't-care-about-anything style. Just the conscious lack of usage of brain. And you have to admit that happens more often than ever.

Now, I'm not excluding myself from the whole story, since I can be such a gigantic moron from time to time. I'm aware of that and I'm working on that constantly. But that's another story.

I just don't get people who're incompetent. I might not hold a shovel the way I'm supposed to (if there is a proper way to hold one) and maybe I'm too clumsy to do certain things, but some people are beyond me. Maybe it doesn't have so much to do with incompetence, but with organizing things.

Well, I suck at that too, so maybe I shouldn't be pointing all this out, but anyway. Some people like to make a complete mess out of whatever their task is, so they have to repeat the same thing several times. When I do something with my dad, for example, I have to make a plan for myself since he surely hasn't got one. So before we even start I ask him what he wants to do and what the end goal is. I feel like an ass doing that, but I've learned it's just easier for everyone to do it this way.

He has a way of seeing things one step at a time, which makes him have to do the same thing at least three times. Whether it's moving something, measuring it or simply figuring out what to do with it. Now that I think of it, it must be him who I got the disorganized gene from.

Let's say we have to cut down some old trees in order to plant new healthy ones (which happened two weeks ago or so). He's worrying about the trees falling down on other trees, so we simply pull it away in a certain direction and crack the first one down. We get the smaller branches out of the way and put them on a pile and then we cut the trunk in smaller pieces, so that we (meaning me) can get them ready for the cutting and all. Wow, I'm really making this long.

What I wanted to say is that his deal is that he puts the branches right next to the trunk. So I say, let's put them aside now, so that we have more space to work around. That's not important, he says. Well, I know it isn't because it's not him who's gonna be taking all that shit from that pile to a new one, further away.

The same with the trunks and the logs. Let's put them here. Then we have to move them. So in the end, after three migrations, he figures I should get them up to the house since they'll get wet. So I get half of them up and I'm dead, since they're so heavy and it's uphill all the way. So we leave the rest at the bottom of the meadow and plan to cover them so they don't get wet.

And when the time comes, we'll get them out and cut them so that we can use it for the fire. And then we'll get those from under the house as well. And then we'll take all the cut-up wood and get it into the cellar. Or maybe just a part of it.

You can imagine my face when he tells me we're going to the weekend house.

The same happens with everything. Getting the carpet out of the living room to air it out demands moving the 200 kg old-craft dining table at least six times. Gah!

Anyway, this is not where I was going. I was gonna tell you what has happened to day and what blew me off completely.

It's a well known situation that most of the people are just incompetent for their job. Often doing something they're not skilled for for work makes it a long-term disaster. Especially in countries where bribe is an everyday occurrence, where bakshish does it's thing and where it's literally impossible to get a decent job without knowing the right people. And by a decent job I mean something you went to school for, have a degree in or, heaven forbid, have an interest in.

No one here seems to do what they want to do or simply do whatever they can in order to survive. People often end up doing jobs they're not trained for, so you have illiterate people making street signboards, tone-deaf people making TV, colour-blind people making videos and what not.

(This is why I think the tax system in Denmark is a good thing. You pay your taxes according to the amount of you income, so in the end everyone does what he's best in and everyone's happy.)

The talented, hard-working people here are usually doing someone else's work, most often during the toughest times, when the bosses usually take a sudden leave of absence and let the others struggle through the piles of crap. No one asks them and they simply do whatever work needs to be done. And this is the problem.

So, I go to the public transportation office today to renew my ticket. Something like a year ago there were finally magnetic cards introduced as a way of settling the whole paper card story. Everyone gets a plastic card which says whether you're a student, unemployed or whatever. The system works like everywhere in the world: if you put some credit on it, it gets deducted from the balance every time you enter a bus or a tram and you validate it. If you're a student, you get free public transportation (you only pay for the card itself), so it only says your ride is validated.

If the company people come to check whether you have a ticket, they have a little gadget which says who the card belongs to, what type it is, how much credit there is on it etc. So, I got mine last year and, since me prolonging it depends on my student rights, I have to confirm that I'm still a student with every passing year.

The system works like everywhere in the world. Unlike here.

I get the paper saying that I'm still a student at my university and go to the ticket-office to fix it up. I figure she'll just read the chip on the card and add another year worth's credit (which is none, since it's government funded) and it's done. So I give her the paper and my card and she asks for my grade book. We have this book where you have all your lessons listed, together with the grades, your rights and all that stuff. So, she has to check that it corresponds the stuff on the paper. Like I could get the paper otherwise.

So, she looks at those two papers for at least four minutes. I'm waiting at the cold and windy side of the window and count six different brands of coffee in the cupboard. Staples are located in a small plastic bowl that you buy cheese in. The creamy one that you put on the bread.

What she should do is check the data, look me in the face to see it's really me, take a sticker with a number, stick it on the paper and write that number in the computer. Not in this world.

She checks the card and the paper and lifts her head towards the monitor. And she's suddenly turner to stone. I start thinking I'm in one of those music videos where everyone's frozen but me and I'm the only one involved in time and the whole story. Or she's seen the terrifying scene from The Ring where that scary girl is crawling out of the TV. So after what feels like three centuries she looks back down to the papers again. Now she has to write the number from the sticker to the paper and confirm it on the computer. It's a five-digit number. Five digits. I see The Cardigans' whole discography in my head while she writes that down with a pen.

But that's not all. She takes out another piece of paper. Something like a small ticket, which belonged to the system that we formerly had. We used to have a plastic film with two separate pockets: one for the plastic card with one's name and photo and another compartment for the monthly ticket that you get, well, every month.

So, she takes out a card and it takes her another light year to write the five-digit number once more. Then she takes out a plastic film with two pockets and by this time there's already seven people lined up behind me. I see the plastic thing and I'm blanking out. I see those little stars and then it all gets dark. But I don't faint. There's a brick wall in front of my face, followed by a jail grid line. Then some barb wire, a five-meter high-voltage fence and a vast swamp behind a Sahara-style desert.

I blink and it's all gone. I come back to reality because the lady is poking me with a bunch of papers through the opening in the glass. I feel like I've been handed a law-office folder that I should do something with, but I have no clue what. So I take the grade book and put it in my backpack, since it's the most valuable thing I have. She took the big paper, but I'm still stuck with a decent-sized library.

My bus had already left the station, so I have to wait almost half an hour for the next one. I dare not look down into my hands again. It's my plastic card, a two-pocket plastic film and a small paper tickets saying it's valid for a year. So what I ended up with was this.

(It's a bit blurry because of the foil.)

An enfoiled magnetic card with a small paper determining its validity.

I mean, does that happen anywhere in the world? Upgrading to nothing and downgrading to the useless? So instead of making a computer program in three hours, they bring back the old paper ticket system that increases everyone's work and expenses.

This is what I meant by planning. Someone in the management must've thought it would be a good idea to finally have the whole thing digitalized. So, you see the stop names and there's a TV person saying the stop names out loud. You click the button, get on to the bus or the tram, bleep your card and that's it. When it's about to expire, you prove your rights, go to the ticket office, bleep it and it's done.

What is this dreamland that I live in?

I put the card in my pocket, get on the bus and stare out of the window.


  1. welcome to croatia,we hope you enjoy your life.

  2. Indeed. Seems like it does have much to do with luck after all...



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