I now have a better perspective on the differences between Canada and the USA. These variations are not dramatic, but they are interesting. In an effort to discourage anyone still reading this blog, I will write a series of posts about these contrasts.
In the USA, the customer is always right and must be treated with utmost respect even when demanding something that is not allowed. For example, you bought a set of storage shelves, but they did not fit, you bring them back in a green plastic garbage bag with pieces missing without a receipt and jump the return line - no problem, cheerful refund.
In Canada, everyone has to follow the rules, even if they are unwritten. If you break the rules, you will be denied the service you desire. You did not bring the item back in "resellable condition with original receipt" - no refund for you!
In the USA, the border patrol is most interested in who you are and are you a threat (terrorist, criminal..). They really don't care if you are bringing back $15K of items you bought, as long as you declare them. The duty is not worth collecting in most cases.
In Canada, the goal of the border people is to get the taxes and duty you owe to pay for government services including the border patrol. Don't try to smuggle those $50 flowered board shorts back from Plattsburgh, the border patrol wants the 12% HST and 8% excise tax.
The US grocery store stocks about 40,000 different items. If you want low calorie gluten free sugar free Parmesan Ranch dressing in the family size, they have it.
In Canada, the average store stocks 20,000 items, and a lot of them are no-name money-saving items. Parmesan Ranch salad dressing any kind any size, forget about it. How about some no-name French dressing for $0.99?
Tattoos and Army Boots on Young Women
Tattoos and boots are probably pretty common in New York City and other "urban" cities. I never saw them in Northern Virginia.
In Canada, your 14 year old daughter will be bugging you because 10 of her friends have florescent pink army boots, pierced tongues, and tattoos on their arms, legs, and unmentionables.