Walking to get water

Image: africa / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Yesterday 1233 ABC radio in Newcastle discussed how listeners felt about restaurants and cafes that had self service water.

As their facebook page said

Are you happy to get your own water at a restaurant or cafe?
You’re eating your meal and a waiter asks you “would like anything else?”.
You say: “I would really love some water”.
The waiter says: “of course, you can get it yourself from the tap on the counter”
Is this acceptable?

Quite a few people thought it was quite poor form that customers had to serve themselves. These couple of examples from their facebook page gives an indication of some of the sentiments.

Would prefer to have the waiter bring a bottle of water and two glasses to the table. Its a courtesy. I would certainly not return to a cafe or restaurant that had a policy of telling seated clients that they can get there own water from a tap. Very rude.

No. It is really freaking annoying. I’m sitting eating my meal. You’re being paid to serve. You bring the water.

There were others of course who were quite happy to get it themselves

Wouldn’t bother me if it was free. The cafe etc still has to spend time washing/drying the glasses you use :)

Cathy (my partner) was pretty amazed by the discussion and posted on facebook

Maybe we should take a trip to a third world country to tell one of the millions of people that need to walk kms daily to collect all of their water for drinking, cooking and cleaning, how inconvenient it is for us to walk across an air-conditioned room to pour a drink of chilled, clean water into a clean glass AND have to carry it back to our table. It’s just not fair and reasonable!!

To which somebody replied:

Laughing at the people using the Internet to take the time to tell others off for white whining.And what do you do to eliminate global income disparity, huh?

OK, Cathy was a bit sarcastic, but the response was a bit surprising.

I find the juxtaposition of this discussion on 1233 with a World Vision TV ad currently being screened in Newcastle quite interesting. The ad features Einota, an 8 year old Tanzanian girl who walks 13 kms a day taking about 8 hours. On her return trip she is carrying a 15 kg bucket of water on her head. (My 8 year old would probably struggle to even pick up something that heavy).   She sometimes has to do this trip alone and has to do it even when she is hungry or unwell. (World Vision suggests that “on average women and girls in developing  countries walk six kilometres a day to collect water.” I’d like to know the basis for this average, but I have no doubt that MANY people do walk this distance and further.)

While we debate whether or not cafes should bring us water to the table, we (myself included) don’t do nearly enough to end the poverty that so many people experience. We really can do better.

Unfortunately I couldn’t find the ad I’m talking about, but the following is another ad from World Vision about water.

About Graeme Stuart

Lecturer (Family Action Centre, Newcastle Uni), blogger (Sustaining Community), environmentalist, Alternatives to Violence Project facilitator, father. Passionate about families, community development, peace & sustainability.
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