Sunday, December 1, 2013

Stand Back - It's a Canuck

Been spending a few weeks south of the border, escaping at least part of the long winter I know is waiting for me.  Crossing one border usually isn't too much of a culture shock.  The States are similar to Canada in a large number of ways and in just as many, they're not.

So today I went to the UPS store to see if there was any way I could settle a mailing issue.  Note to self - you can't get mail if you don't have a mailbox.

Anyway, in the course of the discussion, one clerk looks at the other and says
"Well, that confirms it.  I knew the area code was somewhere in Canada but the accent, didn't you hear it?  Canuck."   She looks at the other clerk with satisfaction and then turns to smile at me.  I think I recoiled in horror, okay not quite but: 

A - no one has ever said I have an accent.  It's all of you I say - not me. 
And B - Canuck, no one has ever called me that either - ever. 

I was reminded that I'm a person of interest, a foreigner. I was one of those people, the ones I meet on planes, in other countries, in public transport - just everywhere.  People with stories that are different from mine.  They're fascinating and I'm their worst nightmare because I want to hear all about them. 

Now I'd become one of them.  One of the others - the one with the accent.  I mean it's easy to feel foreign when you're traveling in a country where your native tongue is not theirs and where the customs are radically different from yours.  But here the similarities run as close as the disparities.  So, no, I wanted to say - it's you, you have the funny little accent not me.  No, the look the clerk laid on me said it all - it was me.

A fraction of the price at home.

Sure I knew I was in a foreign country.  I'm reminded every day.  Retail shops alone are a good reminder.  Like the other day when I was gawking at the Canadian Whiskey disbelieving of the price.  Of course, I'm disbelieving of the price of any liquor south of the border but this one in particular.  Made in Canada, it sat here thousands of miles from its manufacture point marked at a price that can only be called extraordinarily cheap - possibly even giving it away, cheap.  And the day before that I scoured the dairy section looking for cream and only seeing artificial creamer.  At home, it's parked by the milk and it comes in a cardboard container, which I have since found it does here too but it's buried beneath a massive selection of creamers.  Anyway, maybe I should have taken those and any number of other clues that, not only was I foreign, but I just might just be the one with the accent.

So with that reality check I headed off down the road.  There we stumbled on the salsa lady, selling out of the back of her van by the side of the road.  Unemployed temporarily she said after greeting me with a cheery hello that she hurled at me long before we were in speaking distance.  After getting my salsa she offered her e-mail address in case I should like the salsa and she wasn't at her usual roadside haunt.  I did.  Will definitely be e-mailing her for more.  Fortunately, except for spelling issues - I think e-mail is relatively universal.  No accent there.  

So now it's off to the family selling tamales and fruit of all kinds at another roadside stand.  We left
with a bagful of fruit - 12 limes for a dollar!  Unheard of in Canada or at least the corner I'm from - not the limes, the price.  The tamales, well we'll be back for a roadside lunch one day soon.

It was a day of moments that would never have happened at home because, wait for it - I'd be shoveling snow and thinking of past trips and future stories.

And one last word on the accent thing - you will never, ever, hear me say that one dreaded word - eh.    Because well,  there was that classic Canadian throwback to the eighties, Bob and Doug McKenzie ... enough said.

Travel away to Borneo where murder and romance steam up the jungle - 
Fatal Intent on sale for .99 cents at most online retail book outlets.
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Elisabeth Kinsey said...

So true, Ryshia. That looks like AZ. I lived in Tucson for years. It is VERY cheap in AZ. Also, if you avoid the bigger cities, it's cheap all over the U.S. You can buy a house for 50,000 in Iowa. After living in NY for a few years, I have come to cherish our cheaper climes of CO.

Ryshia Kennie said...

Hi Elisabeth - yes, I've found that for many things Arizona is less than or the same as goods in Saskatchewan from what I can see - but haven't seen anything more expensive. Re Tucson - beautiful countryside around there, takes more than the day drive we gave it. Only so much time when you're a tourist.

Murees Dupé said...

I couldn't help but laugh at this post. When I was in New Zealand a few years back, people did gawk and ask questions, as my South African accent gave me away as a foreigner. It sounds like you had a wonderful and tasty trip.

Ryshia Kennie said...

South Africa - Murees you're living in one of my dream destinations. In the meantime the trip I'm on has been pretty darn good too.