The Giver vs The Dutch

I read The Giver after I was given a copy of the book. It was a quick read, but I remember enjoying it a lot. The perspective on how life could be was quite thought provoking.

It got me thinking, but the main thing was the image of the world they were living in.

Bicycles in The Giver
Bicycles in The Giver

It was slightly disappointing when I saw the first trailer for the movie. It was less, “Wow” and more, “Huh?”.

As I thought about it I realized that the world in the movie is completely alien for a lot of people, and most especially for Americans.

The idea of a world not dominated by cars and a reliance on walking and bicycles as a way of life is foreign to the US. And, of course, this is a Hollywood movie.

But, that way of life already exists.

Bicycles in The Netherlands
Bicycles in The Netherlands

For the rest of the world, it is almost impossible to imagine this kind of life. But the magical world of The Giver exists already. It is only in American society where the powers that be give a great big thumbs up to humanity and simply kiss the ass of big, corporate interests.

For over 40 years, the Dutch have put bicycles, and pedestrians at the forefront for transport, given at least as much focus as motorized transport. The very young and very old have a form of transport that will not get them killed when they make small mistakes and they are not forced to be driven around because roads are unsafe.

Photo 1 source: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/15/movies/the-giver-adapts-lois-lowrys-novel.html
Photo 2 source: http://getmorepeoplecycling.com/2013/02/11/commuting-cycling-revolution-in-the-workplace/

Why I won’t fly South African Airlines

I never fly on SAA. Unless there’s no other option I will not fly with them.

I’m in no way a regular traveller, and probably only take flights every two or three years. But even with that little experience I have been completely turned off from using my home country’s airline.

Two airlines

Between South Africa and Taiwan there are only two choices: Cathay Pacific and SAA. I’ve had a chance to fly both. On Cathay Pacific I was very happy with the service I received and everything was hunky dory. Unfortunately I got put on SAA on a return leg and boy did I get a shock at the difference in quality between the two.

There’s not too much between the airlines in the quality of their planes and and the like, and in fact SAA had better and newer equipment and the leg spacing was better. The Cathay Pacific plane was clearly aging and showed its age by simply not being very modern.

But that wasn’t the deciding factor.

Not by a long shot.

Attitude

On a long haul flight you can really see how well the cabin staff handle themselves and even the least friendly Cathay Pacific crew member still had a smile on their face and would help when asked. On SAA it’s a whole different story. The cabin staff arguing with passengers and just giving attitude. Staff dealing with non-English passengers and getting annoyed with them for not understanding. From my perspective it was just rude. I tried to put this down to the other passengers being Chinese. There is a vast cultural difference there, but even my own stereotypes of how annoying Chinese tourists can be will not allow me to excuse those attitudes to them. I wouldn’t excuse myself either.

There are probably good staff, too. But one rotten apple spoils the bunch.

Of course there are annoying passengers. But giving lip doesn’t help anything and interrogating them or questioning their motives on any matter is just not on. Don’t look at someone who’s command of English is not fantastic and get annoyed. Deal with it. If you are on an international flight, isn’t that part of basics?

Shiny turd

I was reading the Sawubona magazine that is on offer on SAA airlines and saw an article about how proud they are of being awarded The Best Airline in Africa part of the Skyways award program (or something along those lines). I would liken this to having the shiniest turd in the shit contest. Be proud, but don’t be content. You’ve won because your airline was formerly government owned and benefits as part of the wealthiest country in Africa. The odds are stacked in your favor. Instead, compare to small airlines elsewhere in the world. There are small airlines around the world who could mop the floor when it comes to customer service.

So, on my next journey, Cathay Pacific was sold out on the day I wanted, so I just extended my holiday, rather than take SAA. It’s just not worth it.

SAA, you can do so much better. Over and out.