When the first time I arrived in US, I was so amazed looking at the automatic gate in my host-parents' house. Just a press of a button opened their gate... Cool...!! Then when I went to college, I had fun trying all the automatic vending machines in campus until I ran out of coins...!!! Pushing different buttons buying black coffee, cappuccino, cream soup, chocolates, cookies, water, etc. The tastes of those coffees from the machines were horrible but I still bought from there.. The satisfaction of inserting the coins, waiting and watching how the machines brewed my coffees and picking up the super hot "paper-cup-coffees" gave me more pleasures than drinking the coffees itself. At home, I was so happy with my dishwasher machine and dryer for my laundry.. I wished I could have ones like that in Indonesia.
Before I could protest, he asked me," How automatic is this autogate?" I told him, just a press of a button, the gate would open automatically. He said," Here in Bandung, just a press of my car button, my gate would open, and if it rained, I would automatically get me an umbrella. Besides, if I had my shopping bags, I don't even need to take them out from the car. The bags would be in my room automatically!"
And before I asked more questions, he said," You said you get drinks and snacks just by inserting coins to the machine?" He continued, "Here in my house, you just say one sentence and you can get anything you want, from coffees, hot pipping noodle soup with fresh chillies, to fried rice. No coin needed."
"I put my dirty clothes in the laundry basket and the next day they are automatically arranged neatly in my closet."
I smiled... and realized how automatic everything was in Indonesia...
Most middle class Indonesians have helpers in their houses, from maids (housekeepers), babysitters, drivers to gardeners. We can't live without them... Other than Lebaran holidays where all the helpers go back to their hometowns, we never really do laundry, we don't sweep and mop our house, we don't wash dishes... Our helpers in the house will do that for us. They are hired to do the houseworks, from cleaning, washing, ironing, gardening, cooking, baby sitting and even driving. Yes, I have to admit,shamefully and thankfully.. that Indonesians are the super spoiled brats...
Contrary to the western view of "slavery" when we mentioned the word "maid' or "servant", Indonesians view a maid or a servant just like any other profession like being a secretary or a clerk in an office. The maids are treated like how we treat our employees in offices or factories. Employers provide proper meals, accomodations, medications when they are sick, toiletteries, and annual leaves. Those maids usually send their salaries home to take care of their children, parents or to buy farms.
My father convinced me that we don't need machines to get things "automatically". Even when we want to eat, we don't need to go out from the house. We get food vendors passing our house almost every half-an-hour, from fresh-from-the-grill satays, hot noodle soup to ice cream.. everything will "automatically" come to us.
Well.... Now I see my small little town of Bandung as a "hi-tech" town which provides me with everything "automatic" without jumping up the electricity bills...!! Automatic yet environmentally friendly and allow me to exercise my social responsibility by providing employment...!! Besides, it can also sharpen my management skill... We do know that "managing people" is far more difficult than "managing machines", right? Isn't it a great way to being "automatic"..?