The Fiji Times

More questions than answers

- By SEONA SMILES  The views expressed are the author’s and not of this newspaper.

WATCHING the youngest member of our household junior generation, aged four, dramatical­ly cast himself down, twirl in circles and bang a plastic toy on the floor I understood his behaviour, if not exactly condoning it.

When the screaming dropped enough decibels so that grannies and not just dogs could hear the message, I got to understand a bit more about the problem.

The toy wouldn’t work, it wasn’t going. Why? Why? Why? What was going on?

Frustratio­n in a four-year-old is understand­able if unattracti­ve. In an adult the ignored efforts to get answers to what appear to be simple, or at least explainabl­e, questions can be quite dreadful. The lack of legitimate informatio­n, perhaps of even a solution, gives rise to all sorts of displeasur­e, speculatio­n and rumour, if not outright tantrums.

A quick survey of the people’s voice expressed through The Fiji Times Letters to the Editor pages show that some of the persistent requests for informatio­n include the mystery deaths of the Russian couple and the two American tourists in the west. Nobody knows where the overseas investigat­ions are going and nobody knows anything on the local front.

Then there is the mystery killer mosquito coil that burnt down the Great Council of Chiefs building at Nasese. Nothing more heard on that front except an echo of cynical sniggers.

Daylight saving is a perpetual point of controvers­y but it’s not something that greatly affects our household. Children wake with the dawn’s earliest light, no matter what the clock says. I suspect the cows that are so disturbed by daylight saving are rather the same, and one wonders why the dairy industry doesn’t adjust, rather than the cows.

The great plastic ban is another hot topic easily sorted. The thinnest ones are straight up banned and we must stop using them. Replacing these with thicker plastic bags is not at all the correct response. Bring your own reusable carry bags when shopping, use paper and non-plastic where possible to get as much toxic, polluting plastic out of your environmen­t as possible.

While we are on shopping, there is one question I have oft repeated to a much-frequented supermarke­t in our area: Why are the checkout entries so small, crowded and difficult?

The ones I am talking about have narrow exits only just negotiable by your plump, matronly type. The difficulty comes when said plump, matronly type has to lean over the end of the trolly to grapple with the tins of fish and bags of rice that seem to wriggle their way just out of reach during the last dash down the aisle. Or when trying to carefully lift the eggs from the fold out part where toddlers refuse to safely sit.

By the time I get through the checkout I too sometimes feel like flinging myself from a speeding trolley. Customers have to fight for space to balance the packet of flour, cartons of milk, pack of soap powder, butter and myriad other items you never thought you needed until you got into the Temple of Consumeris­m.

At your elbow as you try to manouvre through is a display of overpriced confection­ery designed to be spotted by the most oblivious child in the universe. With luck a plump, matronly figure can blot out the view until the child gets to the other side of the electronic price check, where there is somewhat more space to load your goodies into your recycled shopping bags.

Checkout staff members are obliging, but why are the checkouts designed in such a difficult way? Especially as a couple of other supermarke­ts in the vicinity have a much friendlier checkout designs. I’m not asking for them to also get that conveyer belt to send the stuff directly to the checkout operator’s hand, just more space that will make it so much easier to manage.

The closest I’ve got to a reason for this miserly approach to checkout space seems it is thought to be a deterrent to theft, and goodness knows that is a problem.

Unfortunat­ely, it is also a deterrent to crabby customers who are already distressed by cost of living increases in the new year.

Another question came from a friend who is a frequent bus traveler and asks whether bus operators ever ride their own transport?

If they did she feels sure all the bus steps would be put at a level that the elderly and arthritic could negotiate. She’s soon going to need some geriatricf­riendly climbing ropes just to get in .

She also suggests that if bus owners took the bus to work occasional­ly, they wouldn’t have equipped the new bus on her route with seat backs slanted so far back it’s almost like lying down, which is all very well for a nap, but comes with consequent discomfort and difficulty to stand up.

Motorists ask why privileged Members of Parliament bully through the increasing traffic horrors with sirens and outriders while the rest of the muppets inch through Rewa St roundabout­s and up Princes Rd in Suva.

There seems little reason to suspect some sort of local terrorists waiting by the roadside to throw eggs. Your average motorists are just trying to get home for dinner, although they do feel sorely provoked as some privileged persons push through, safely hidden by tinted windows.

Another curious question for the inquisitiv­e is why the religious programme featuring the currently imprisoned Grace Road cult leader continues to be broadcast on a local television channel?

Then there’s the rather more pressing question of what exactly are they planning to do to the Queen Elizabeth Drive in Suva, and just how much of the precious, much used waterfront will be destroyed in the process?

So many questions, and just not enough good bottles of wine to drown them in.

I think what would make us all feel a lot better is more transparen­cy and a more free flow of informatio­n from those in the know. More people answering more of the questions.

However I can clear up the mystery of the fouryear-old’s non-functionin­g toy — it was a plastic spiderman riding a spinning skateboard with accompanyi­ng shrill electronic beeps and I took the battery out. (I’ll put it back later, when the headache goes).

 ?? Picture: RAMA ?? The remains of the GCC complex which was burnt down early hours of the morning.
Picture: RAMA The remains of the GCC complex which was burnt down early hours of the morning.
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