Some summer gripes

Some summer gripes

Summer is good for most businesses, perhaps even better than Christmas. Tourist numbers continue to increase, more locals take their holidays abroad, and children are off school and nudging their parents to take them to the beach where they can feast on ice creams to their hearts’ content.

Traffic jams in summer add to our frustration levels. Photo: Matthew MirabelliTraffic jams in summer add to our frustration levels. Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

But the extraordinary heat also seems to make us slightly grumpy and prompt us to air our gripes about avoidable and not so avoidable things we hate about summer.

There is not much we can do, for instance, about the multitude of jellyfish that have invaded the Mediterranean this summer. Many planned outings to the beach have had to be cancelled, and the bravest amongst us have had to deal with jellyfish stings with a concoction of medicines and traditional remedies that more often than not are pretty much useless.

Some other inconveniences could, and still can, be avoided. Why is it that at the beginning of summer we have to experience roadworks in major arteries that lead to our scarce beaches? This year beach seekers had to deal with the repairs of the Mistra bridge road and with the Mellieħa bypass. Apart from the avoidable annoyance of delays, the work done seems to have been of good quality, and these roads are now much better than they ever were.

A major gripe for many has been the mushrooming of caravans in places like Mistra, Mellieħa Bay and the Salini coast road. Not only is the sight of these caravans, often occupying access to the beach, obnoxious, but one wonders what pollution they are causing with the waste they generate. In Mellieħa Bay, for instance, many are remarking there is an unpleasant whiff of sewage on the shoreline just beneath the unofficial caravan site near the Mellieħa Bay Hotel.

I wonder how many beaches will earn the blue flag after this summer’s not-so-clean waters? Maybe an ears, nose and throat specialist at Mater Dei Hospital can put our minds at rest that infections resulting from contaminated seas this year were not abnormal. The nasty scum from the tuna pens is undoubtedly an avoidable nuisance that keeps hitting us every summer.

Who can blame those who hate travelling for their holidays in summer? Coming from Geneva recently I experienced a string of avoidable inconveniences that will put me off travelling in peak season for a long time. A two-hour delay by an airline that had to get me to Malta was not made any more bearable by the complete absence of an airline representative who should have been at the airport to reassure travellers that all would be well in the shortest possible time.

We seem to be excelling in tolerating indiscipline on our roads

I have lost faith in Swiss efficiency at least as far as dealing with frustrated travellers in an overcrowded airport where about one thousand travellers started their holiday with only three check-in clerks at the desks. One of these clerks, probably an adopted Swiss citizen, was as nasty a person as one could ever have the misfortune of meeting. We are steadily moving to a situation where customer care is a low priority for even profitable enterprises as long as they save on costs. 

We seem to be excelling in tolerating indiscipline on our roads, and the traffic laws enforcement authorities may just as well have taken an extended vacation in this hot summer. Double parking in busy narrow arterial roads, not respecting road signs and right of way, and pure and simple rudeness when driving are some of the frustrations that drivers have to take in their stride on a daily basis.

The proliferation of bring-in sites to dispose of organic and inorganic waste is another gripe of many especially in our long hot summers when organic waste attracts rodents and emits unbearable odours. In Baħar iċ-Ċagħaq, for instance, there are probably more skips than in any other locality of a similar size.

At one time residents were asked to express their preference on whether they would rather have daily collections than skips that are even located in the lovely main square of the village. It seems that lack of common sense has prevailed and the place remains littered with various skips that are often overfilled with garbage.

Soon summer will come to an end, and we will have to deal with winter gripes about excessive humidity and other inconveniences that we associate with the colder season.

May the first showers of autumn soothe our feelings of avoidable frustration.

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