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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