Believe it or not, this has been my first time in Canada. Despite my penchant for aggressively traversing the globe and the continental United States, I just never made time for Canada. I figured that I’d get to it sooner or later, given it’s so close. There was no rush. It wasn’t going anywhere. I had other places to see.
Thank goodness sooner came quicker than later.
Canada felt … like home. A beautiful, nature-abundant home packed with some of the friendliest people on the planet. These people I encountered in Vancouver were so friendly, in fact, it was a little creepy at first. It was almost Stepford Wife-ish.
A few observations to this point include:
- Ubiquitous catch phrases among Canadians seemed to be “Thank you” and “How are you doing?” and “I’m sorry.”
- People didn’t cross the street until the walk signal flashed green, even if there were absolutely no cars in the road. (I got some looks whenever I dashed across the street while the walk signal was still red — despite there being no cars in the road. I started following the rules after realizing the rules actually meant something in Canada.)
- The people behind restaurant and shop cash registers seemed to enjoy their jobs a little too much — way more than their counterparts in America anyway. One guy at a local spot where I stopped to get some French fries must have told me “Thank you” about five times in the course of our one-minute exchange. I wanted to be his best friend, he was just so genuinely nice and happy.
- Even the off-duty public buses displayed uber-politeness: A digital scroll across the from of these buses would read, “Sorry… This bus is not in service.” In Chicago, there is no apology necessary. If the CTA buses started issuing public apology displays for something like this, then they would be mocked.
- When I smiled at people on the street, they always smiled back. Always.
This last point was utterly refreshing, given I had just come from China, where omnipresent smiles were not the norm. Canadians are just a welcoming and cheerful bunch, generally speaking. I’m sure that, like any other place, there are rotten apples in the bunch. But my welcome back to North America has been anything but rotten.
The fresh air and stellar settings ain’t bad, either. I envy those who live here and get to wake up to lush mountain views and breathe sea-mountain air on a daily basis. If calling a setting “home” were 100-percent tethered to the environment where you felt most at ease and inspired, I could certainly consider that place Vancouver …
I am realizing more and more my intense craving for trees and mountains. Could a geographical shift be in my future? The skyscrapers of Chicago are terrible supplements for mountains, after all.