One of the first things that struck me about the States is how Convenient everything is here.

Life is so much easier for the people. I'm not saying it's easier for all - there is a lot of poverty and destitution too and it's not all rosy, but the general way of life is a lot easier.

This could be why Americans get the reputation for being lazy?

Anyway, I thought as part of Yours Is The Earth, I would collect all the instances of Convenience I see... for all to see.

  • There are banks inside grocery stores which stay open until late on a Saturday
  • You get drive-thru ATM's (apparently there is one in Fourways... so yeah, we don't actually have one. Where is Fourways anyway???)
  • If you want to mail some post, you leave it in your mailbox, put the flag up, and the mailman will pick it up and mail it for you. No more standing in Post Office queues.
  • Grocery stores have self-checkouts. You scan the items yourself, place them into bags, and swipe your card yourself. Again, far less queuing.

October 28 update

  • Keeping with the theme of drive-thru's - coffee is kind of a big deal around here. So to make sure you can easily satisfy the caffeine craving, they have drive-thru Starbucks everywhere. Why should you have to get out your car? (thanks Gina!)

November 1 update

  • I actually experienced the awesomeness of this one today. Cheap starter phones on prepaid have built-in simcards here, like my one with Virgin Mobile. What this means is that it is linked to your account online. If I log on to Virgin Mobile I get an account history, my minute and messages balance (updated instantly - I even checked) and the option to top-up with a credit card. Unbelievable.

November 30 update

  • Smart phones - I know, we have Blackberries and iPhones in South Africa. But I never did. A lot of people don't. 12 year old kids (except those in Sandton and Camps Bay) don't have. But here it seems EVERYBODY does. I was sitting at a college football game in Louisiana and the two laaities next to me had smart phones. Constant internet access; applications for everything; messenger functionality; maps, music, menues... now that's convenience.
  • The public transport system. In South Africa we say, "what's that?" - enough said.  

December 17 update

  • Checking in for flights is ridonkulously easy. You can do it online (same as back home), but you can also do it at the airport or HOTEL (self-service terminal), or via your smartphone which they read at security using a barcode system. Clever.
  • BUT - this is in a country where the security measures are overboard (admittedly with reason). You have to take yours shoes off, and seperate some things from your bag before proceeding. The queues are long. Shoes off... you gotta be careful about what socks you wear on flights.
  • I'm getting my drivers license and vehicle registration sorted tomorrow. How easy is this? You can write the test (on a computer - MCQ), get your photo-ID issued, have your vehicle registered and inspected, and walk away with your license plates - all in about 3 hours, all at the same place! You can also renew your license online or over the phone. Easy game!
  • BUT - this is in a country where the cars they make don't have yellow indicators. They're red. The same as the brakelights. Please explain?  

February 9 update

  • Want to rent a DVD? How about I make you a deal - pay me $9 a month and I'll mail you a DVD of your choice in 2 days at no extra cost. Done with that one? Send it back and I'll mail you your next choice. Oh, and my website is pretty cool with thousands of DVD's, Instant streaming movies and an intelligent preference database with suggestion software.... that is the glory of Netflix, and it's $9 a MONTH!

June 1st update

  • So easy to pay for parking in DC. Pay by your cellphone! Just dial in to a number, upload how much time you want to pay for and bang, go enjoy your yourself. You get sms's telling you when your time is running out. And you can top-up again from your phone!
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