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Post no. 12

July 17, 2008

It would be remiss of me not to sprinkle my wisdom on the crisis gripping our tiny island by the short and curlies, so here goes. (I’m talking about the public transport, in case you were wondering what I’m on about.)

My first reaction would be “Throw the lot in a huge cake mix, bake for a few hours and serve with custard.” More astute readers will have seen that the above proposition hits two birds with one stone (I hope I can still use this expression outside the hunting season)
a) Malta without bus and taxi drivers would be a happier place
b) exporting the cake to third world countries would contribute towards alleviating world hunger
Of course, first impressions and reactions are generally mistaken.

I know I’m not going to say anything that will rock anyone’s world here, but I think that the brouhaha kicked up by these not-so-gentle-men is intimately tied to the fact, in the Maltese psyche, that the world owes us a living. Let me explain.

The fuse was lit on a languorous summer Sunday afternoon, when the body that protects the interests of the drivers/owners of hearses, buses, red vans (why are they called minivans?) and white taxis said that unless the government does not go back on his intention to liberalise the acquisition of hearse-owning-and-driving permits, the aforementioned assortment of drivers, owners and similary juicy bites were going to strike.
A prima facie it appears to be a sympathy strike. It was, of course, nothing of the sort. The drivers and owners of buses, red vans and white taxis know that when the hearse-owning-and-driving permits are open to anyone who’s interested, it will be their turn to have their position challenged. A bit like Manic Street Preachers’ “If you tolerate this, your buses will be next”, if you will.
So far these people have been having it good, as the Americans say. They charged what they liked, they worked when and if they felt like etc etc. Now anyone who’s interested in buying a bus and/or a white taxi and/or a red van will soon be free to do so. And – here comes the hard-to-swallow bit for these people – they’ll have to pull up their socks. (Figuratively speaking of course, because for most of them wearing socks would cover the tattoo of a naked woman on their ankle. which explains why most public transport drivers don’t wear socks.)
I have heard that on joining this exalted body you sort of pledge your loyalty by depositing a substantial sum. If you do or think anything that will make life difficult for the other members of this
noble institution – in the present situation, to not participate in the strike – your money is forfeit. I don’t know if this is true. But if it is, it further undelines these people’s belief that they have a right to something without actually working for it.
They don’t want to be challenged. My impression is that they can’t deal with a challenge. And I’ll make a prediction. If a company decides to enter the public transport arena, it can expect to have its vehicles vandalised.
I’ve got to get back to work now. NOT by bus – I use a bicycle.



From → The Gripevine

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