Clean Your Own Mess

Disclaimer: I am about to compare the ‘issue’ between Indonesia and Germany regarding ‘People’s behaviour at cafes, or food courts’. So the comparison is limited to those two countries. Since I am an Indonesian, and have been ‘only’ living in Germany for 4 years, 21 months (will be 5 in June), so yes, I dare compare the differences in behaviour.

First of all, I am not a cafe person even if after my daughter goes to kindergarten7 hours a day from Monday to Friday, which means I have a lot of time to sit at cafes, and have breakfast there, if I want to. But once in a while, when I do not have enough time having breakfast at home, I do decide to go to a cafe or bakery to have some small breakfast and sip my hot chocolate milk for at least 3,50 euro in total. When I sit there having my breakfast, and relax reading the novel I am currently reading, I often observe people’s behaviours, like how they normally have their breakfast, what they are doing while having breakfast, and things like that. In Germany (Deutschland), no matter how many breakfast portions you order with probably two kinds of drinks of your own taste : Juice, and chocolate milk for example, you are willingly cleaning your own mess before you leave the cafe or a bakery. There are always trolleys where you can put back your tray filled with your plates and glasses and mugs, and all those mess. Bring them back in the trolleys, and you leave the table clean!. None is feeling forced doing it that one grumbles, curses, and having an inner monologue saying:

‘ Ahh, dang! bummer! cleaning up this mess is not my job!’

In Germany, in cafes like in bakeries, or food courts, as far as I am concerned, there is no specific person hired to clean the floor and so on. When there is a small incident happened, like someone or a toddler spilled some water on the floor, the person who cleans it would be the one who also works serving customers,  BUT cleaning the tables because the customers leave the trays filled with used tissues, plates, and all that jazz? NO WAY! It won’t be happening in Germany. This is something good for the discipline in each of us. This is something good because then people realize that keeping everything clean is the job of everyone.

Let’s go a little while back in Indonesia! I have to see in a  more objective way, instead of draging myself into a judgmental person. I do not mean to be judgmental with my own country,and the ‘culture’ in this case, which now I doubt it can be called as a ‘culture’. People in Indonesia, or I should say the Indonesian people, who have meals, say, in food courts or cafes do not normaly clean their own mess, the worst thing that I actually feel rather heavy to tell is that : they even make the mess worse by throwing used tissues on the floor and do not even bother picking them up and at least put thm on the table. I think in some food courts in Indonesia, there are some trolleys too where you can put back your trays. In other words, it is possible to behave like the Germans do regarding ‘Clean Your Own Mess’. The problem lies on the individual characters, who do not  botther with such simple thing. A character that says :

If I clean it, those cleaning boys or ladies, will not do any much work

This is not my job! The cleaning ladies are hired to clean my mess

Why should I clean my mess? I have no time

Why are you cleaning your mess? Don’t act as if you are doing the right thing

Well, I give the cleaning people something to do! they can’t just be paid without doing anything, right?

Those are just some examples of utterances many Indonesians say regarding ‘Clean Your Own Mess’  in food courts or cafes.

Objectively, there are just many unemployed people in Indonesia. So, even a cafe or a stand in food courts hire a specific person, whose job is only cleaning the mess. And when there were no mess , then the person was only sitting down at the corner of the wall playing with his or her mobile phone. But, the reasoning that ‘We shall not clean our own mess, because there is someone doing it.’ seems wrong to me. Back in Indonesia, I did bring my own tray back to the trolleys, and even wipped my table if ever I had spilled a bit of drink there. I wasn’t feeling forced doing it, in fact I would feel guilty whenever I did not clean my mess. I think characters can be changed in this case. The Indonesian people should realize that it is the job of everyone to keep everything clean.They should really get rid of those mindsets that say ‘IT IS NOT MY JOB’. It’s probably hard for some foreigners who are used to cleaning their own mess, then coming to Indonesia, and noticing the common behaviour : ‘Act like locals’! And it’s probably the same as Indonesians, especially those who are not disciplined, coming to Germany and letting the mess lying on the table. if you are such a person, be warned: You might get scolded by people.

I dare give critiques to my own people for our own sake. We are going into a modern country if even a small thing like CLEANLINESS is abandoned. And here are my critiques:

  1. Cleaning your own mess is not a SIN, IT IS in fact next to godliness. (Many Indonesian people are firm believers, so if that’s true, cleanliness everywhere should be on their mindset.)
  2.  It is the job of everyone to keep the cleanliness of our surroundings. Being ‘worried’ that those cleaning ladies won’t get anything to do is absolutely a stupid excuse.
  3. Disciplines start from HERE: CLEAN YOUR OWN MESS when you are at a cafe, or food courts, for example.

These are the tips regarding clean your own mess, if you visit Germany:

  1. If you have meals at food courts, be sure the check where the trolleys in which you can put your tray back once you are done with your meals! Do not be lazy! YOU WILL certainly find many of these trolleys.
  2. If you have small breakfast or brunch at a cafe in a bakery, please do the same as no.1
  3. Be ashamed of leaving your own mess when there is a possibility of cleaning it your own.

I wrote this piece of writing, because I honestly dream that one day the Indonesian people will really be discipline, be responsible for their own mess, and be open minded to critiques. And most importanly, gradually change the behaviour in this case.

I do not forget my root, in fact I love my country!

BTW, this ‘CLEAN YOUR OWN MESS’ applies to fast food restaurants too, like KFC,MCD. I honestly almost never go there, but since I know that many Indonesian people grow their love with these fast food restaurants, then please remember my writing , if ever you visit Germany, and hopefully you will change your behaviour once you are back in Indonesia. Come on folks! It only takes less than 10 seconds of your time!















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