Saturday, September 21, 2013

Australian peculiarities II: Australians and their cars

Australians love their cars. Preferably big cars with a huge thirst. Cars that look like they are meant to be for the wilderness, but mostly they are used to drive here to drive the kids around and to conveniently get the groceries from A to B. The average car here is at least twice as heavy as the average car where I come from and as people here on average are shorter as well there must be some who need a ladder to get into these cars.
But the existence of these cars is not the peculiar thing, it's more how they are used. Or how they are used while they are actually not used. Because for some reason people hate to switch off their cars. On my way between home and office which is about 15min by foot I usually see at least 3 cars parked at the side of the street with their motors running. If it is a very hot or cold day I'd guess people sit inside a running car because of the AC. But on most of the days that can't be the reason.
It's interesting to see what people do in these cars: having lunch, refreshing their make-up, checking something on their laptop, chatting with a friend,... . Nothing what you would need a running motor for. And it's not that they just take a 2-min break and then they are on the road again. The "chatting with a friend" incident took over half an hour and occurred late in the evening under our bedroom window. Another example is the one with the dad and his two sons waiting outside the hospital for the mom plus child number 3. They were not even inside the car but were sitting outside enjoying the nice weather with the doors of the car wide open - and the motor running.
I once asked a lady why she does not stop the motor of her car. We met in the middle of nowhere, where we both took photos of koalas sleeping in the trees. I found it inappropriate that she pestered the habitat of the koalas with exhaust fumes while taking photos of them. She answered, that her car is a Diesel and it is supposed to cool down before you stop the motor. I really wonder, who told her that: maybe the guy from the petrol station.
Keeping motors running is actually not only restricted to cars: maintenance guys having lunch while the chain saw or the leaf blower or the lawn mower is chugging along is a very common sight as well.
Maybe petrol is just still too cheap down here to get people thinking about environmental stuff and with the new government, which will sack the carbon tax and a bunch of climate institutions right with it, one can't expect a positive impulse from that side - at least not in the near future.

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