Most of us living on a different part of Mars who have fully integrated into the local society have learned to view our surroundings in many ways. We enjoy the beauty and uniqueness’s of the new culture around us, have learned new ways of doing things, accept or tolerate other things, some things you just get use to and other things just piss you off. Everyone accepts there is no true utopia on Mars yet it certainly is not hell either. Like most places here on Mars there is the good and the bad and you try to focus on and the good and ignore the bad.

I am often asked what I miss of home and although the list is long I can live without much of it. Whoopie pies, root beer, marshmallow fluff and donuts are not particularly life sustaining items and I do get my fix of junk when I go home. Of course my family is the number one thing I miss the most but that goes without saying and everyone around Mars accepts that. What I really miss the most is the lack of extreme active social control.  It drives me nuts. Let me explain….

This part of Mars is very densely populated thus everyone lives close to shops, stores, schools and other amenities. This should be convenient. Certainly coming from a rural area myself I do enjoy the ‘idea’ that everything is close by but because of government, store, school  and general social policies on control a simple visit to the grocery is a major task. Lets say I want to run to the store to get a liter of milk and lets say I choose to use the car. First I need to drive my car out of the parking spot which has been marked for me. If I park over a line ‘technically speaking’ I could get a fine (although I never have, it is legally possible). While driving to the store which is less than a mile away, I have to drive over no less then 12 speed bumps, park the car and pay for the parking. I get a shopping cart which I get by putting a 50 cent piece into a slot on the bars of the cart (which is store policy even if you only want a few things you must have a cart). I go inside the store, get my milk, pay for it, put the shopping cart back in the place I found it, go to the car and drive home. The drive home however is not the same route because of the one-way street I took to get there I can not go back the same way. I therefore have to drive the long way around to get back home.

Now what has just happened? The local town has decided to put parking lines on the road to ‘encourage’ us to park in specific areas. This is not really needed because everyone does it anyway even without the lines but they want to control every little thing we do so the lines stay. The speed bumps ‘encourage’ us to drive slowly. I suppose you could drive quickly over the bumps if you cared to replace the whole bottom side of your car every month or so. I park the car and pay for the parking. Paying for parking is more of a tax then control but it certainly has an effect on people because I (like many people here) often take the bicycle or scooter to places because of the paid parking and I am very conscious of the time I spend in the shops. I get a shopping cart by putting a 50 cent piece in the slot. This 50 cents I get back when I am finished. This policy is to ‘encourage’ people to put the carts back where they find them. There have been times when I forgot to take a 50 cent piece with me or just didn’t have one and its quite a deal getting one. Especially since I haven’t payed in cash for anything for at least 15 years (I usually use a debit card) I almost never have change. I drive the long way back home because of one-way streets. About 20 years ago some brain did a study on traffic and found that when streets were narrow people drove slowly. Local governments thought that was great and started rebuilding most the streets to make them narrower then made them one-way to ‘encourage’ safer driving. I wonder if it was the same brain that said, ‘put a speed bump every 20 yards’…..idiot.

Obviously I do not take the car to the grocery to buy just a few items because of the hassle. I usually go on a bicycle which is easier the only problem being the incessant rain. I get soaked and add a new item to my ‘to do’ list…change into dry clothes and hang the wet ones out to dry.

The locals have no word in their vocabulary for ‘convenience’. The Latin word was never grasped onto. Probably because the concept was so alien it was just to hard to understand or maybe it was because the idea of letting go of a little control was JUST TO SCARY. These people need to lighten up a little. Live dangerously. Put a little excitement into your lives. However you look at it, extreme active social control is the one thing I will never get use to.