Opinion: Problems and solutions

POSTED: 04/12/12 12:35 PM

Complaining is so much part of human nature that we have a tendency to reward those who manage to come up with the most complaints. We’re not kidding: complaints get way more attention than solutions. And yet, in a young country that has its own share of situations to deal with, solution have far more value that complaints.
We complain about all the things our government does wrong and we complain about employers who abuse their employees – except when those employers happen to run brothels; when their employees complain our politicians keep a straight face, check their zippers and state for the record that employees elsewhere are also victims of abuse. Such a statement comes of course close to being the most insane excuse for doing nothing.
But we diverge, as we often do when we survey the wreckage that is our modern day society. This is about problems-thinking versus solution-thinking. We need a different mindset, one that says something like: there are no problems, there are only solutions.
We’re familiar with this concept, but it came to us once again during a recent brief visit to Paris. If you thought traffic in St. Maarten is bad – try Paris. We happen to know very successful people there who don’t have to worry about where there next meal – or their next mistress – is coming from but who have years ago decided to take a rain check on driving a Mercedes or one of those awful Hummers in the city of light. The reason is simple: you don’t get anywhere with those road monsters. So these successful Parisians drive around in the smallest car they dare to buy without running the risk of becoming the laughing stock at their monthly meetings at the Lions Club.
But hey, there are more than six million cars registered in Paris alone. Add to that number the cars of people who visit the French capital and it is easy to understand that parking in the center of Philipsburg is a walk in the park compared to finding a spot anywhere in the center of Paris. The thought that Parisians are going to hell behind the wheel on a daily basis makes travelling from Simpson Bay over the hill to Philipsburg also a lot more bearable.
But the impossible traffic situation in Paris has of course also inspired creative thinkers to come up with original solutions for what doomsday thinkers consider an eternal pain in the neck. And no, we are not referring to the excellent public transport system that carries thousands of Parisians and visitors through a maze of mostly underground connections.
In front of the Gare du Nord in Paris we discovered a brilliant solution for people who want to get from A to B without having to subject themselves to sweaty armpits and worse in trains and metros: the moto taxi.
There is a whole battery of Honda Goldwings lined up in front of the station. Passengers get a comfortable overcoat, a sanitary hairnet before they put their helmets on and gloves if they wish to wear them. Luggage is easily stored on the back of the mighty Goldwings. While there are plenty of alternatives available (from public transport and taxis to bicycles and private cars) business at the moto taxis is brisk – and the clientele varies from adventurous youngsters to serious businessmen and desperate housewives.
Sounds like a cool alternative to a causeway over the lagoon to us.

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