Friday, September 16, 2011

Cultural Disorientation - John Rosenbaum

This is John's 2nd post here at the Fire Bowl.  Read the 1st one HERE.

I once journeyed to a far and distant land, a land of loggers and loonies, the home of hosers and Hortons.  I am, of course, referring to our Canadian cousins to the south (don’t buy what “maps” will sell you... every conspiracy theorist worth his or her salt will tell you that disorientation through the transposition of compass directions is the first step in population control used by the powers that be [those powers being... oh, I don’t know... SATAN?!]).

My first human-to-Canadian interaction was a little disheartening, to say the least.  As my wife and I were simply trying to enter the country, the customs lady laid us out under an endless barrage of questions: “What’s the purpose of your visit?  Where will you be staying?  How long are you planning on staying here?  How do you know this friend you will be staying with (and is it the bearded guy waiting outside)?  What do you do for work in the States?  Why did you move to Washington?  How much cash do you have on you?  Are you using a debit card?  How much money do you have in your account?  You recently moved to Washington and have no roots; you don’t have a job and are visiting a friend you used to work with in the States--how do we know he doesn’t have a job that will pay you under the table waiting for you up here?”

In short, Canada was offended that I, an unemployed, homeless man, would come into their country and not be seeking work.  “What, you’re too good for our jobs?”  Well, yes, Canada, as a matter of fact, I am.  I’m a philosopher--judging by the employment history of philosophers, we are all too good to be employed.  At all.

After riffling through our personal belongings customs sent us on our way: we clearly weren’t trying to stay in the country being we brought little more than our toothbrushes with us.

Aaron, our host (the bearded guy waiting outside) then took us on a tour of the little port-town of Sydney.  I ate a moose and Rhiannon consumed an entire galaxy.  After our hearty meal we were driven to the native reservation, and what a beautiful and scenic, though painfully slow, trip it was (really, Canada?  An average of 35 mph everywhere?).  Aaron took us to a dock where we watched the light set (the sun proper was already set), smoked a pipe, and watched bats play across the surface of the water.  There was even a fireworks show!

The next day I experienced for the first time the single greatest contribution Canada has made to the international community--Tim Horton’s (did I just hear a cheer rise up from the crowd?).  It truly is like nothing I have ever seen.  It’s much too nice to be a Dunked Donut, too pastry to be a WacDonald’s, and too convenience store to be a Startruck (I know what you were expecting me to say!).  Really, though: those donuts are glorious.  They look like something you would see in a movie (think Hook) but instead of tasting like p00p (think of the appearance-versus-taste scenario of Ukrainian cakes) THEY WERE AWESOME!

Well done, Canada.  Well done.

Our cultural experience did not end with Tim Horton’s (again and again and again).  We had the much-acclaimed Swiss Chalet (another home run) and were even privy to the Canadian Generation X’s childhood memories thanks to YouTube.  You’re my new best friends, Hinterland Beaver, Robin, Loon, and Hoser!  And I was so moved by Aaron’s favorite song-put-to-cartoon that I myself want to marry a log driver who can waltz!

Sadly, our cross-cultural experience had to come to a close.  We had one last touristy tour of Sydney, found one of the best (in terms of selection) though worst (in terms of price) used-book stores ever (Beacon Books), and boarded our vessel for home.

Entering into our own country was a pleasant experience--the customs agent gave me a friendly pat on the shoulder (and armpit, abdomen, buttocks, and legs).  No problem!  Oh, well, our car wouldn’t start...


  1. I was very happy to have introduced them to Canadian legends such as Tims and the Swissh.

    It was a great weekend. If John could've remained silent for the duration, it would've been perfect, but hey, whatever.

  2. We're sure glad we're not there.