An island continent......
You've probably all heard that quote at one time or another - the usual second half of it, often not quoted goes something like.....
...surrounded by recreational anglers!
Most Aussie kids grow up in or around boats. In the main it doesn't snow here - the water doesn't freeze over - in an short time an Aussie boater can garner a lifetimes equivalent experience to someone located stateside, where the boating seasons can be short.
Being overfriendly to an employer and learning where the line should be drawn.....well....you may think so - but you can bet - with most Aussies the employer gets the respect his cash demands, and not an ounce more - any respect above n beyond that the employer earns the hard way, one good deed after another, just the same way every other 'digger' downunder does!
Why are they all in the USA?
Well...Gratuities is your answer.
Downunder if you get a job - your expected to perform like a slave, manservant, etc - just for the privelege of having gainfull employment and the community respect that comes with it.
You work for someone you give 110% and your thankfull for your pay - thats just how it is.
In America - if you work with an Aussie work ethic - thats called "exemplary service" and the employer throws gratuitys at you.
Downunder - thats called "money for jam" (something for nothing) an Aussie would under normal circumstances give you that level of service just out of thanks for giving him a job in the first place - we don't expect gratuities within our culture.
If I as an Aussie gave a fellow Aussie in my employ a gratuity - it might well earn me a smack in the mouth with a knuckle sandwich.
Reason? - the recipient might think I consider him some sort of charity case, in which case he'd be highly offended (even if he was a charity case!) and likely respond with violence.
So - a place where standards of living are higher, and where idiots give away money for the same standard of service we expect as "normal" seems like a pretty lucrative place for an Aussie to go n put together a quick grubstake to get you on your feet back home!.
I well recall the first US guest I guided downunder, who made the mistake of offering me a gratuity (I believe you call it a tip?).
To us a Tip iss either:-
A) the name of a dead certainty winner at the horse races
B) A usefull lifetime advice anectdote like,
Always be kind to your mother...or - always apply your park brake on a hill!
Anyway, he never made the same mistake a second time - your welcome to your own customs at home, and when we are in your home we should abide by those customs.
By the same token - when your in our Home, please leave the American customs at home. If I quote someone a price for a job for a day thats my price, it isn't 'negotiable' either up or down - the price IS the price and thats whats expected and for that you should get 110% service or better!.
We don't barter, dicker or tip, it's as simple as that. We call a spade a spade we dont call it a shovel!
As for their nautical skills - well - if you saw the seas we grow up with and contend with every day, you'd understand why Aussies can sail from the time they can swim.
If we didn't go to sea in big seas we'd never go...we'd always stay home - I read US boards about 25 fters going out in REAL 2 - 3'fters and thinking 4'fters are big - whereas most aussies think nothing of going out in 8ftrs in smaller boats than 25 ft
I see twin OB's (and triples) and they are always 225 hp or 250 hp on US boats - downunder gas is like 3 bucks plus a gallon...we go out with ONE outboard of - 90 - 115hp.....
Boat tow US doesnt exist if you don't plan to go out an back - then likely it ends as a one way trip...coz no ones comming to save your sorry azz.
I see US boats capable of doing 50 mph offshore and realise that downunder the only boat ever went 50mph was on a trailer on the freeway on the way to the launch ramp - we just don't get the seas that will let you do much over 18 - 22 knots comfortable cruise on a good day!
We do have special schools for training kids in boating...
An example is my own 16 year old son...
He is studying a "Marine & outdoors education" course...which involves a lot of hands on ocean experience in all manner of craft.
by the time he completes his 12th year of schooling at the end of this year 2004, at the age of 17 he will be qualified in:-
Small boat Handling
Marine radio Operator
Lifesaving (bronze Medallion..of the Royal Life Saving Society)
And a heap of stuff I've probably omitted...he will have sailed in schooner on the open seas for a fortnight - gone away on a fishing camp, canoeing camp - rock climbing camp, sea Kayaking you name it he will have completed it and demostrated his ability to utilise the knowlege and skils he's been taught and end up being qualified in it.
Now - to get into this course there were only 16 kids selected to participate (this is a state of 2 million people). At the age of 16 he has to sign a CONTRACT with the school undertaking to meet certain expectations academically, socially and behaviour wise, right down to the nitty gritty of wearing the school uniform every day regardles of what other kids (peer group) do.
If the kids mess up (in terms of meeting their contractual obligations to the school) - they are OUT of the course and go back to normal curriculum (or leave and get a job in the REAL world!).
These kids usually graduate & find a job in a marine / aquaculture / tourism /outdoors activities industry etc, as they are highly sought after by industry due to the level of maturity & personal responsibility they have to display in order to get into the course in the first place and then stick it out for 2 years to finally pass.
Some of the kids will pass out and go straight into deck hands positions on working Lobster boats to get their commecial sea time up in order to get a coxswains and later masters certificate to skipper their own vessels.
Some will stick at the lobster industry some will end up in pearl farming aquaculture and so on and so forth...
Yes - we train our kids in Marine studies from a young age - not everyone can be a doctor, lawyer, politician or rocket scientist. This world needs those who have REAL hand skills who can DO things that sometimes educated folks only dream about - we don't look down on such kids as being academic underachievers in the normal curricular system - we just look at them as square pegs in round holes - so we find em a square hole where they can be happy and achieve to their potential.
Seems to work.
Hopefully my young fella will work in the Lobster Industry long enough (2 years) to get his qualification to skipper one of my vessels and then come work for me in the Charter industry.
Once I think he can manage the people and business side of the industry - and he is mature enough in his outllook and behaviour - likely I will give him a vessel and one of my Charter licenses and send him off on his own to give it his best shot and make his own way in life.
If he messes that up - well itwill be up to him from there on in - you can only do so much for your kids before they have to stand on their own two feet andbecome their own man.
I think you will find most Aussies are pretty down to earth types - we don't have a lot of time for class distinction, and tend to judge people as we find them. Most Aussies are nobodys fool - while they may be polite, hard working, always laughing and with a big grin on their dial - you'll likely find they have already 'judged' the people they work for and know well - their strengths weaknesses foibles and achilles heel - they just might not let on theres more inside their heads than sawdust...
You see they also learn how to be good at bluff poker from a yong age and it's never wise to tip ones hand...specially to an employer.
Lots of those Aussies got their degrees from the school of hard knocks, and can likely hold their own in most any company. Most will be imbued with a generous serving of common sense. Many will be quite inventive and great lateral thinkers. Necessity is after all the mother of invention.
Anyone underestimates an Aussie is setting themselves up for a fall.
As far as being a friendly place to visit - well - yes we are - BUT - you need to be under no misapprehension..Americans downunder are for us locals a conundrum...it's what might almost be classed a love / hate relationship...
You see we are eternally greatfull for the fact that McArthur did return and saved our bacon - without the Battle of the Coral sea and the huge number of Amrican lives lost - most Aussies (at least those of us who remember our history) know, that....without that I'd be typing "Konichiwah...oldyachtiesan, whatashiwa niji masu san to moshie masu, ogenkie desu kah?".
part 11 follows