What If…..

A funny thing happened to me at lunchtime today and the experience was surreal.  Let me tell you about it.

It was cold, wet and blustery outside so I decided to forgo my regular lunch time walk and stayed indoors.  I was sitting on a couch in the lunch area at work, enjoying the rain falling across the city through the window perched 31 floors above street level.  Occasionally I took a glance at the green living magazine in my hand treasuring the moment.

After about 5 minutes of peace and quiet, six work mates (many who I have known for at least 5 years + and are friends), turned up fresh from the food court located at the bottom of the building, each carrying their choice of burger, hot chips and a coke.  I spied enough calories on the table to feed a large village in Africa for a week!  However, I digress.

I kept quiet, reading my magazine and just listened.  The conversation started with a one-up-man-ship about how much food each of them could consume (specifically meat) at some local all-you-can-eat joint down the road.  I briefly thought about the times that I used to do the same thing, and could scoff back half a cow in one sitting.  I also remember how sick I used to feel internally for days afterwards, and didn’t envy them at all (I didn’t really eat half a cow. I exaggerated to make a point).  However, what was about to occur captured my imagination.

The friendly banter soon turned to football, and the various codes that are played in Victoria.  On a side note, many men in Melbourne are football mad.  It is the first thing they talk about Monday morning, and spend all Friday afternoon wondering who will win the games over the weekend.

This football conversation ebbed back and forth between the blokes, each trying to outdo each other with their knowledge of the game and their favourite players.  It was about this time that I realised that even though I knew these guys well, I had no bloody idea what they were talking about.  It was like I was listening to a crew of Klingons without a universal translator to help out.

You know that the funny thing was that I didn’t really care.  Now don’t get me wrong, I pride myself as being as blokey as the next bloke, but it struck me that besides some aspects of work, I had nothing in common with these guys any more.  I was vastly different in my values, my beliefs and my interests.

Then a really amazing idea came to me.  What if, I thought, instead of the passionate banter and interest they had for football, that they turned their blokeyness towards sustainable living, as I have?  What if, instead of boasting about who’s footy team had the best players, they bragged about how much renewable energy that their solar PV systems generated each day, trying to out do each other?  What if, they egged each other on about how many days in a row their chickens laid eggs, and who’s hens laid the largest bun nuts?  What if, instead they talked about how much water they had in storage and how much rain they had harvested from all the rain today?  What if, all of these green topics were all talked about with the same vigour and passion as they have for football?  I am not bagging them, and I respect their differences, but what if?

Think how truly amazing that transformation would be for the environmentally apathetic blokes of this country.  Just think of how far the normal Aussie bloke’s competitive streak could take us towards making a real, yes I mean real, difference towards tackling climate change and preparing for the end of cheap oil.  Instead of bragging about their huge 4×4 V8 SUV monsters, they might just brag about their Electric Vehicle conversion of said beast of a car and how many kilometres they managed to squeeze out of a charge, or how they souped up their bicycle with an electric motor!

When I finally hear that sort of banter around the lunch table, I will faithfully know that we are on the road to transition.  Until that day, I will dream of what if…….


  1. says

    A great post, Gavin. It made me stop and think a long while before posting … mainly because it hit me a little wrong. I’m one of those folks (I think, like you) that believe we should all do what we can. But for some people, what they can is less than me and much less than you. For people that live in the city, for example, beyond trying to grow the odd pot of herbs or veg, gardening is right out. Much less keeping a few chickens. Where I live, the county allows us to have a couple of chickens … but it’s not practical for me in terms of providing year-round care in an area with significant snowfall about 5 months a year. So while I *could* do it, it won’t work for me. OTOH, I’d love to have a hive of bees here. We have a garden about 60’x15′ and berries and grapes and herbs. That’s something. Could I do more there? Very likely so – but the tradeoffs aren’t right now. Costs of going solar are prohibitively high right now, and wind is out of the question in our community. (Overhead lines are an issue, too. 😉 ) My hubby is another alternative guy. We both grew up in the country with families that raised a significant portion of our own food. My parents had, and still have, wood heat at the only source of heat in the house. My dad’s in his 70s and still splits firewood. So for folks that don’t do anything, starting small with easily rewarded effort is key. Insulation, weatherization, using less, producing more of our own, etc. Baby steps. But they are still steps. So after all this rambling, I want to say I don’t see you as being harsh on anyone. Just a right-thinker, especially today.

  2. says

    What if indeed. The mind boggles at how much could be achieved if those blokes could turn their minds to other things. Luckily I’m married to one of those “alternative” fella’s whose passion is getting the solar panels working at peak performance and doesn’t mind lugging heavy baths into place so I can make them into more vegetable beds. I’m from a different world too – the one where peak performance means how well my carrots are doing…lol.

  3. says

    Your post made me laugh, Gavin. I am married to a blokey bloke who can build anything and is always thinking of a new way to build me a chicken coop , a sheep yard etc. – so they are out there.
    In the meantime, with your lunch room guys, I would start with food .Like wild animals, blokey blokes can be caught and tamed with good food. Start with something simple like egg and lettuce sandwiches made with your eggs , lettuce and bread….then one day throw a beetroot chocolate cake on the table . It won’t be long that you will have them eating our of your hands and football and eating huge quantities of meat will be a distant memory for them.

  4. Anonymous says

    Hi Gavin I guess we are still programmed as hunter gatherers. The men brag about about their hunting prowess and other such manly pursuits and the women about their successes and finds gathering (shopping). However at my work place, which is perhaps a little unusual, the talk is often about PV systems, water tanks, and other green issues as well as footy of course. I think that what generally turns peoples interest to greener living is when there is a strong financial incentive to do so and price pressures are starting to bite.

  5. Anonymous says

    My work place is all women where the talk around the lunch table is all shopping. Your piece reminds me of a colleague who had just come back from Aldi pumped full of adrenaline, bottled water was drastically reduced and she had bought a couple of dozen packs to put under her desk. Hard to understand why when we have chilled filtered water on tap. My thinking turned to the plastic waste not to mention the energy needed to transport the bottled water around. But lately there has been a slight shift in conversation, utility price hikes have turned the talk to PV systems, tariffs and rebates, water tanks and pumps, etc. I am starting to feel that my time is coming and will soon be comparing egg and vegie yields from the garden.

  6. says

    You should come to the ATA at lunchtime sometime. Occassionally I’ll drop in there and that kind of conversation happens reasonably often. In amongst the footy of course :)

  7. says

    I know exactly how you feel, sitting in a room with people talking about stuff I have no idea about while I’m thinking gee I better get the carrots in this weekend! If they really knew what was going in my head they would look at my like I was from an alien planet!

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