Sunday, May 2, 2010

No Labour Today

Today is Labor Day (or Labour Day as it's spelled here). As it turns out it's basically just a political rally. One of the parties here is called the Labour Party and they recently won yet another term so are feeling pretty good about themselves, adding a bit to the day's significance.

Of course, the Labour party is supposed to represent the workers and we can pretty much vouch for that. They almost always take the employee's side when workers take a complaint to the department (and they do often). The government wants the islanders employed and feels it's the employer's job to train or even rehabilitate them (no matter how painful, unlikely the outcome, how long it takes, or even if the employee wants to be trained). Surely there's a happy medium there so employers can replace non-performers with those that want to work. Surely.

Personally, I'd be really curious to see what would happen if employer's banned cell phones on the job. It's really a ubiquitous problem. The customer or boss is considered rude if they try to interrupt a conversation. Company time? What's that? Customers are mere inconveniences and pests cutting into their chat time.

In the islands, cell phones are kind of like TVs in the U.S. In the States, someone could live in a shack without plumbing in the middle of nowhere, but it'll have electricity and a satellite dish bigger than the shack out back. Similarly, most islanders, no matter their income level, have cell phones - expensive ones with all the bells & whistles. Apparently they feel the need to get their monies worth so talk on them all the time. If they're not talking, they're texting. Or playing games. Or listening to music on them. Or sharing pictures. Or surfing the 'net. Ok if off-hours, but a bit frustrating when during business. I'm pretty sure there would be a riot if employers demanded the phones be turned off while workers were, um, working.

I realize this is becoming (or already is) a worldwide phenomenon (does Oprah really have to run an extensive campaign to get people to stop texting while driving - really?!). Maybe someone should try a national "turn your cell phone" off day. Of course, if someone took away my computer (and its internet access), I'd be in serious mourning, but surely that's different...I rarely bring it to the dinner table. Rarely. :)

Well, I can tell you that our cell phones are off. We've been enjoying some peace and quiet on the beach. It still amazes me that we can have a beautiful beach like this all to ourselves. On a holiday weekend, no less.

And guess what else we've been enjoying. Has the IGA grocery store been reading my blog? Michael did a quick run to get a couple of small things last week and came back with his eyes all lit up. They had pretzel rods! They had fake Italian Sausages! They had a new fake burger that was billed as a quarter pounder so would be more substantial than those little patties we normally get. Were those cans of vegetarian refried beans? All he needed was more money so he could go back and buy them out. And he did. We will NOT discuss how much that little bit of food cost. Of course, we have no idea if we'll see these things ever again, so we're still eating only 2 rods/day, but both had 2 "sausages" each for dinner last night. They were dreamy! Today for lunch it'll be the burgers. We'll still want a few things from St. Martin, but might be able to get them some other way. Once we've got the brand names, maybe we can convince the IGA to get the stuff here. So there's hope!

We also had a great dinner at the house of a contractor Michael works with over the weekend. He, his mom, wife, and 2-year old, are French Canadian so there was some French floating around there. Some Italian was mixed in there too, so the food was plentiful and delicious. Again, look at this view. It really illustrates one of my favorite things about this island. From just about every perch you can see both the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. I love that!

They had all kinds of fruit trees around them (which also meant monkeys) and we got to try a weird looking cherry they grow here. It didn't occur to me to take a picture of it. I will next time. It was a bit more bitter than a normal cherry but still had a huge pit in it like you'd expect. We'll have to go "shopping" for fruit there when it all ripens soon. A run-in with another pal over the weekend turned us on to a free source of veggies on the beach, some avocado trees, and some hydroponic stuff we can get from Nevis, so maybe soon we'll have lots of good-for-you produce and for not a lot of $. It sure do take a while to get in-the-know like the locals.