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VERNON OICKLE: South Shore readers have their say

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The View From Here

As I’ve stated many times in previous columns, one of the great pleasures of writing a weekly column is the reader feedback I receive. Even if a reader doesn’t agree with something I’ve written (and yes, there are some who occasionally disagree with me), it’s the engagement that matters.

I write this column to further the discussion and debate on topics and issues that matter. I have to believe in a topic or be inspired by an issue before I can write about it and not everyone agrees with my choices. Some even think it’s fluff. But that’s OK, because reader engagement is an important part of the process, and every so often, I like to share what some of my readers are saying.


Trash solution?

In response to my September column on the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian, Tom of East LaHave wrote:

Nice article today on Dorian’s aftermath. In my regular evening walks during the following days, I was surprised by the amount of generators that could be heard running in our area. I guess people did take heed of the ample warnings.

I take an hour walk every day from my home in East LaHave to Middle LaHave along Highway 332 to Grimm Road and back. Every night, I make it a goal to pick up three pieces of trash and all pop/beer containers I see along the route. I never come home empty handed. In the years since I have been doing this a pattern has emerged. The trash is mainly from fast food restaurants that are located on the eastern side of the river in Bridgewater. Wendy’s, Tim Hortons, DQ and Subway. I rarely see anything from McDonald’s. Interesting.

It shows to me that these people have made the conscious decision not to prepare a meal or sit down at a restaurant to eat. After doing that, they made the decision to throw their garbage out the window of a moving vehicle instead of packing it away for disposal at home. Unbelievable. I cannot comprehend why anyone would do this. Can you?

Here are my thoughts on a viable solution. It shouldn’t be too expensive to implement but would need to involve all the industry and various levels of law enforcement. Have suppliers print sequential bar codes on the drink and food containers. When going in the drive through lane, have a camera or scanners record the license plate number. Scan the bar code on the containers and match that to the car’s plate number. Then, when trash is found on the road, law enforcement could scan the barcode and have a match. Fines can be issued and the message will be sent. I don’t think it would be long before these chronic litterbugs would think twice about tossing their garbage out the window.

The barcodes are already on the drink cans. Could some quick investigating show where they were purchased and what method of payment was used? The trail could lead to the culprit. Surprisingly, the beer is usually Olands or an import.


Talking tips

Also in September, Helen from Dublin Shore wrote in response to another reader’s comments on tipping:

I agree with most of your pet peeves except one. You had a friend who complained about tipping in North America. This person is not well informed.

The servers/chefs, etc. in Europe are paid enough to live on, but the servers, etc. in North America are not paid highly. In fact, they are paid below minimum wage because the tips are taken into consideration.

I lived in the EU for over 15 years and travelled to most of the countries there; tipping was not expected. These people made enough money to be happy with their lot in life. In North America, especially the big cities, these people are living way outside the cities just to be able to afford a room to rent. In NA, we are just looking at ensuring our shareholders are happy. In the EU, the quality of life is more important.

Who has it wrong? We, in NA, should look at our values and give a decent salary. That is the key, then tipping would not be necessary.

Tipping on a $125 bill, especially if the service is good, is expected. I rarely give below 15 per cent, normally 20 to 25 per cent, knowing how little these people are paid. If they give less for good/great service, then they are being cheap. We are lucky if we can afford a dinner for $125. Most servers can’t afford this luxury.


Be grateful

My Thanksgiving column generated some feedback. Ray from Queens County wrote:

You hit the nail on the head this week. We certainly take way too much for granted. Thanks for reminding me just how fortunate we are to live in the best country in the free world, not to mention lucky enough to live in Nova Scotia, and in particular, here on the South Shore.

What the hell do we have to complain about?

Faye from Pleasantville in Lunenburg County wrote:

Hi Vernon, I just read your column in the Breaker on things for which we should be thankful. I agree with every one of them. One more thing that I am most thankful for is: I was in Halifax this past Monday as I had an appointment at the Dixon Center. On my way home, my friend who went with me and I stopped at McDonalds at Hammonds Plains for a coffee. I very stupidly left my handbag on the bench where we were sitting. Of course I didn’t miss it until I got into my house.

I knew right away where I left it. I phoned them immediately to discover it had not been turned into them; someone did take it though and got rid of the contents. A person from the dollar store phoned me to inform me that he had it at the store; no explanations. At least my IDs and credit cards, etc. were there, but over $100 was not. However, I am most thankful that I got it back minus the money.



Elections

And my column that ran before the October 21 federal election generated some buzz. Dave from Bridgewater wrote:

Read your article in the Breaker this morning on the importance of voting. Very good. I agree with everything you have written. But . . .

In the last federal election, I can’t remember for sure, but Trudeau won with 39 per cent of the vote? Again, if I remember correctly, 46 per cent of the people didn’t vote in that election. The question then would have to be, if Trudeau had gotten say, 52 per cent of the vote, would he have been a better Trudeau these last four years?

Looking at it from another point of view, with our three main parties, if only four people voted, we would have a winner. If 400,000 people voted, we would have the same winner. Why are people always preaching how important it is to vote?

I believe there are theories and realities in life. I also believe that Canada is a wonderful place to live. But, the reality that nothing ever changes, where politicians are concerned, keeps getting in the way of the theory that voting makes a difference.

One reality is that in most, not all, elections, the party changes. Why? If the government was doing any kind of a good job, the people wouldn’t vote them out. Because they do, to me, is a large huge loud scream from the people — “we want a good government.” How often have we gotten one?

When the percentage of non-voters is higher than the percentage of votes for the winning party, that is also a loud scream from the people. Can that many people be wrong?

I’m writing a paper on the government, after looking back over my 50 few year eligible voting career, and what I see, by far, more justifies not bothering to waste your time voting, than it does to vote. It is a joke. You are right, we do have a wonderful country, but now we have to find a way to get it back from the politicians. This piece you have just done on the importance of voting should be followed up with one showing what happens afterwards.

Another reader from Lunenburg County wrote about the federal election:

My partner and I voted today because of your The View From Here article in the South Shore Breaker last week. Thank you!

Like many Canadians, we had become disillusioned with the political prcess and see every major party as not reflecting our values and concerns and felt that not voting was perhaps better than voting for someone we didn’t support and would express our lack of faith in the political process. However, voting for one of the independents sends a stronger message than not voting at all and it is a vote for the democratic process, as flawed as it might be.

Thank you to all the readers who took the time to write. This exchange of ideas and opinions is very important to our democracy and that’s the view from here.


Vernon Oickle writes The View From Here column, which appears weekly in the South Shore Breaker. He can be reached at vernon.l.oickle@Eastlink.ca

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