Germany is a highly industrialised country. It produces top brands like Benz, BMW, Siemens etc. The nuclear reactor pump is made in a small town in this country. In such a country, many will think its people lead a luxurious life. At least that was my impression before my study trip.
When I arrived at Hamburg, my colleagues who work in Hamburg arranged a welcome party for me in a restaurant. As we walked into the restaurant, we noticed that a lot of tables were empty. There was a table where a young couple was having their meal. There were only two dishes and two cans of beer on the table. I wondered if such simple meal could be romantic, and whether the girl will leave this stingy guy.
There were a few old ladies on another table. When a dish is served, the waiter would distribute the food for them, and they would finish every bit of the food on their plates.
We did not pay much attention to them, as we were looking forward to the dishes we ordered. As we were hungry, our local colleague ordered more food for us.
As the restaurant was quiet, the food came quite fast. Since there were other activities arranged for us, we did not spend much time dining. When we left, there was still about one third of unconsumed food on the table.
When we were leaving the restaurant, we heard someone calling us. We noticed the old ladies in the restaurant were talking about us to the restaurant owner. When they spoke to us in English, we understood that they were unhappy about us wasting so much food. We immediately felt that they were really being too busybody. “We paid for our food, it is none of your business how much food we left behind,” my colleague Gui told the old ladies.
The old ladies were furious. One of them immediately took her hand phone out and made a call to someone. After a while, a man in uniform claimed to be an officer from the Social Security organisation arrived. Upon knowing what
the dispute was, he issued us a 50 Mark fine. We all kept quiet. The local colleague took out a 50 Mark note and repeatedly apologized to the officer.
The officer told us in a stern voice, “ORDER WHAT YOU CAN CONSUME, MONEY IS YOURS BUT RESOURCES BELONG TO THE SOCIETY. THERE ARE MANY OTHERS IN THE WORLD WHO ARE FACING SHORTAGE OF RESOURCES. YOU HAVE NO REASON TO WASTE RESOURCES.´”
Our face turned red. We all agreed with him in our hearts. The mindset of people of this rich country put all of us to shame. WE REALLY NEED TO REFLECT ON THIS. We are from country which is not very rich in resources. To save face, we order large quantity and also waste food when we give others a treat. THIS LESSON TAUGHT US A LESSON TO THINK SERIOUSLY ABOUT CHANGING OUR BAD HABITS.
My colleague photostatted the fine ticket and gave a copy to each of us as a souvenir. All of us kept it and pasted on our wall to remind us that we shall never be wasteful.