Archive for October, 2009

Is it just me or is rudeness universal?

October 31, 2009

“How are you adjusting to Canadian life?”

“I think Canadian life should be adjusting to me!”

I may be a typical American.  In fact, at the conclusion of the above conversation (yes, it was real) the nice person I was speaking to declared, “Spoken like a typical American!”  All in good humor, of course.  But I’m not sure what being a typical American is… or if it is an all exclusive temperament.

Some Canadians view us with a certain envy, others with disdain.  They think we are loud, boisterous and spoiled… and those are the envious ones.  I’ve heard it said that we come to Canada to take what we want and are very rude while acquiring it.  That while we are here we expect to be catered to and have an air of superiority.  Maybe we are just a little bit too proud…

After all, we took our liberty; nobody handed it to us, there was no civil negotiation… we had to fight for it.  And it seems we have been fighting for it ever since, justifying ourselves to the rest of the world because we are too rich, influential and powerful.  But are we really all that bad?  And is being rude and obnoxious just an American trait that we have a monopoly on?

I was in line at Tim Horton’s the other day, in the drive thru.  I had pulled off the highway and in doing so you could make an immediate right and go into the Esso or pull straight ahead into the drive thru.  Of course there was a line up and when I realized if I pulled forward too far I would block the entrance to the Esso I held back to allow cars to enter and exit that place of business.  Wouldn’t you know it, some guy swung around to get in line ahead of me?

My BB and I were in Walmart a while back (lately her favorite store) and we were looking to check out with only a handful of items.  As everyone does, we were looking for the shortest line, trying to avoid the automated, “Now serving number 10, now serving number 13, now serving number 5…”  When we realized the check out we were semi-standing in line next to was just as good as the rest and were resigning ourselves to it aloud,  a young man and woman briskly shoved their loaded cart ahead of us.

I approached a local newspaper with an idea for a column.  I had written several letters to the editor (6) which appeared regularly the first few months of my arrival here.  I became friendly (incidentally) with a staff writer through one of the soccer organizations because her sons played with ours.  An e-mail from her told me that the managing editor really like my writing and suggested I approach him with a column, so I did.  I spent 30 minutes in his office, supplied 8 original pieces at 500 words each and impressed the hell out of him with my background.  But then I never heard from him.  I phoned and left messages, I wrote e-mails, I wrote more letters to the editor (which they did not publish) I even went by his office and left a note saying please return my stuff.  Then I got to wondering… “Who does not even have the courtesy to contact you and at least say, “You don’t have what we need?” ”  Especially when you go out of your way to make it easy for them to do so?

I guess what I am trying to say is this.  There are assholes everywhere and maybe I am the biggest one around, but one thing I have learned in my short time here on earth is that you treat people the way you would want them to treat you.  Canadians are no more discourteous than any other nationality, but when you are a stranger in these parts perhaps it stands out a little more, and that’s too bad.  The vast majority of Canadian citizens have been very receptive and gracious.  It would be unfair to lump all of them into a stereotypical mold… just as it is unfair to categorize all Americans unfavorably. 

When people ask me how I like it here I say, ” I like it”  because I do… I really do.  When we light the fire and snuggle up close, winter is a welcome aphrodisiac for my BB and me.  As I drive and look out at the scenery, I marvel at the differences between Florida and Canada… each has its own unique beauty.  The change of the seasons here makes me appreciate each ones signal to the alert onlooker;  prepare, store, expand, indulge.  I enjoy every minute of each passing day and regret nothing.  I am a very lucky guy.    

I just wish that some of the rudeness that seems so prevalent in American society had not followed me up here.