Monday, September 19, 2016

NOT All Canadians are Nice

Germans are punctual, the Swiss are precise, and Canadians are "nice".  Every nationality has a reputation.  As a Canadian, you have probably heard something like this:

  • "I went to Toronto for a convention and everyone was so nice"
  • "My cruise stopped in Port Little Big Nose in Newfoundland and everyone was so friendly and nice"
  • "You Canadians are always so nice"
  • "My neighbors came from Canada and they are nice"
Well of course we need to be careful about generalities, I am sure there are a few Germans who sleep in and arrive late for work and a few Swiss watchmakers who mixed up the hour and minute hands.  

So where can you find a not-nice Canadian?

It's easy, just cross the border into Canada and you will find that they all work for the CBSA: Canada Border Services Agency.  These folks will greet you with a scowl and ask "where did you come from and what are you coming to Canada for?"  Hello or hi is not the normal start of your interaction with these guardians of our border.  

If you are Canadian, they will immediately suspect that you are trying to smuggle liquor and avoid the 75% tax.  They will frown and move on to more direct questioning like "what did you buy?" and "any liquor or tobacco?".  Answering no or yes will produce more frowns and they will write something on a piece of paper and send you off to talk to some other grumpy CBSA employee.  The only consistently happy employee in my experience is the cashier who takes your money.  Do not expect a cheery "welcome home" from the CBSA as this might encourage you to cross the border more often and increase their workload.

If you are a foreigner, they will immediately suspect that you are trying to avoid liquor taxes or work illegally.  You will be asked something like "are you going to work in Canada?"  You must clearly and confidently answer "no, I am just going to a meeting" or something like that or you will be subjected to a gotcha game of 20 questions.  Once they are satisfied that you are not bringing a bottle of whiskey to give to Uncle Freddy or planning to work at Tim Hortons, they will bid you a grumpy "thanks, you can go".  The last time any of them uttered "Welcome to Canada and have a good time", most people crossed the Atlantic in coal powered ocean liners.

So now you know, we are not all nice, and we send all our not-nice people to the border to make sure you are not smuggling a mickey of Bailey's Irish Cream into our beloved Canada in your long underwear.

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