Be glad at how lucky you are

Opinion by Alan Duff
Be glad at how lucky you are

We live in an ever-dissatisfied world even as it keeps getting better. There must have been a time when we were truly grateful to fly from New Zealand to London or Paris in a day flying time with a few hours stopover. Smoking – yuk – was once allowed on flights. The food wasn’t near as good, though I suspect the service back in the 70s and 80s was better because people were less spoiled and thus nicer.  

Now, flying economy is called cattle class. As if cattle could be so lucky. The food is called “indescribably awful”; “inedible slop masquerading as food,” etc. As for the journey itself – have you got half an hour?

Nope, not even half a minute. These horror long-distance travel stories are boring. We should be lucky to go across the world in reasonable comfort and at such a low cost, the airlines rely on business class passengers to make any money. I’d like to say to these people, would you be in a business with negligible to no margins?

Serve me steamed pork pieces with jasmine rice, a few glasses of wine and I’m in heaven. I don’t expect any-star cuisine. It’s a plane for goodness sake. Its job is to get us there – safely – which they invariably do to an extraordinary degree. You get a tail wind flying across Russia and your flight info monitor says you’re travelling at 1060 kph and you’re complaining the food is not perfect enough and where is the damn drinks trolley?

That’s the distance from Auckland to Dunedin – in an hour. I bike about 18 km in that time and walk about 4/5. Complainers should lighten up and accept what they paid for. Watch another movie, or try reading a book, newspaper, magazine. Stop wishing to use your mobile phone on the plane.

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In this age of higher and higher expectations, of ever-growing sense of entitlement, we’ve all lost something. Appreciation is grudging if at all. We’ve stopped being joyous at being alive in an unprecedented age of prosperity, certainly in the Western world where we want for almost nothing.

For too many, though, their house is not big and grand enough, the car too old at three years, a combined income just broken six-figures is almost broke. We stopped seeing how marvellous our home appliances are and how easy they’ve made our lives. Supermarkets with 40,000 items to choose from? You got another half hour? No, not even five seconds. Move to Africa or India.   

Something’s always not good, fast, efficient, or flash enough. Only by purchasing something with a brand name will we feel satisfied, indeed elevated emotionally and of social status.

Same goes with hotels: now everyone wants an upgrade to a suite – free, of course. Clever marketing has won us over to this nonsense. We can do video tours of stars’ homes and all of us can afford the superficial luxuries like Champagne, crayfish and oysters. How to get an upgrade to business class is read by near everyone. But not yours truly.

Flying business class is not pertinent to my current monetary situation. I accept the occasional upgrades with almost embarrassing gratitude. It is way more comfortable and all that. But I don’t walk down through business-class envying or loathing the lucky passengers. Just as I don’t lust after a private jet or look at media pics or videos of celebrities’ favourite holiday resorts. It is not my world. I do not want that kind of life. But I don’t wish those who have it bad luck or misfortune.  

The same with those who have money. I say good luck to them, when I know it is hardly ever to do with luck. More hard work and talent. Some just acquire a few million dollars more than others; usually people of higher intelligence, born entrepreneurs, the gifted, those who can still soldier on while others have dropped.

I know hardly a soul in either New Zealand or France who can complain about their standard of living. I mean like in living on $2 a day. Or $100 a day for that matter.

We can thank democracy and capitalism and government laws against monopolistic, manipulative, deceptive business behaviour, along with rafts of rules and regulations there to protect citizens and society in general.

Strive to make a better life for sure. Just say thank you once in a while and be glad at how lucky you are.    


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