April 11, 2012 Oh Canada!

I have never met more friendly unhelpful people than I did recently at the Winnipeg airport.  With four in the morning smiles, I was told that my flight had been rebooked for four days later, strangely coinciding with the same day I was scheduled to return.  “That doesn’t leave you much time,” she said, “I can upgrade you to an aisle seat for free.”

…Oh, Canada, our proud and native land…

The land up north is more different than you’d think.  It takes a little over four hours for me to drive to the Canadian border up highway 29 to Pembina, North Dakota.   The capital of Manitoba is another hour farther north.  Despite the distance, it is a worthwhile trip.  Besides seeing road signs in French and metric, you can also experience, Loonies, Twoneys, and colored money; gravy on French fries; some wonderful state owned liquor stores; a chain of stores called Canadian Tire that look more like Targets than a tire store; a cool accent;  and worse weather than even we have.  Mostly Manitoba is the home of some really nice people.

Winnipeg is a hidden gem of a city with lots of arts and music, nice parks, minimal crime, and everything you’d need in a large city.  They have more curling rinks than the states of Minnesota, Wisconsin, and both Dakotas, combined.  That is assuming you ‘need’ curling.  What is curling, you may ask?  It is not shuffleboard on ice.  I have long been a fan of curling maybe just because the women from the Denmark and Sweden Olympic teams are really good looking.  Maybe it is the thrilling action of watching rocks skidding down the ice past the hog line while sweepers sweep.  We only see curling in the USA every four years, maybe that isn’t a bad thing?

Canada also has something called ‘Hockey Night,’ a cultural icon akin to Monday night football.  Don Cherry, the old color man for CBC hockey is sort of a cross between John Madden and Dandy Don Merideth.  He comes complete with some of the weirdest colored ties, pastel suits, and most of the off the wall quotes you will ever see or hear.  Winnipeg hockey fans are nuts about their new hockey team, the Winnipeg Jets, which is actually sort of an old team.  The old Jets franchise moved to Phoenix in 1996 and probably because it was before NAFTA, and they didn’t export the name.  They renamed them the Coyotes.  The new franchise was originally in Atlanta and was called the Thrashers.  There was nothing scarier than the thought of small songbirds on skates.  Apparently the local people in Atlanta thought so, too as nobody came to their games.  The other teams, though, weren’t too scared as they lost most of their games.  Atlanta has now lost two hockey franchises, the original Atlanta Flames moved to Calgary years ago.  Loosing two sports franchises to Canada…ey!  or better ugh!

Canada, the country, is undergoing an economic revitalization as the high prices of oil and minerals have given them jobs, money, and a purpose.  There dollar has risen to now being even more valuable than our dollar, something that has made the Canadian’s feel richer.  They used to spend a lot of their money in America and with the stringer Loonie, you’d think it would even be more cross border shopping but with the new requirements for passports, it seems the border is a lot less busy, than I remember.  In Europe, you can travel from Norway to Italy without a passport, but not in North America, not here in the land of the free as passports are needed even for fishing.

Since I seem to know so much about Canada, you would think that I had to just spend four days waiting for my plane up there last month.  That, however, did not happen.  You see Canadians are polite, they don’t butt (or is it bud?) in line, they wait their turn, which is one of the reasons their healthcare system works at all.  This is something I’m not sure us Americans are ready for.  We as a people don’t wait well.  The TV commercial about it’s my money and I want it now, sums it all up.  We might have to become a little more Canadian.

I became a bad Canadian and knowing what I knew, I went over to another airline line and went to the front like I belonged.  This helpful Air Canada lady got me on a flight to Toronto that left in thirty minutes, I went back to the other line, again in front and they changed my tickets, at security, I walked to the front of the line and had my ticket checked and made the plane with time to spare….and in Toronto, I caught up with my original flight in Toronto.  I felt somewhat guilty of my actions as I looked at Lake Superior illuminated by the sunrise but then I remembered that I could have just as easily spent four extra days in Winnipeg watching hockey and curling instead of watching the waves on the beach.  I am sure those Canadians are still waiting in line back at the airport, ………….oh Canada…..With glowing hearts we see thee rise, The True North strong and free!

Have a good week, ey!


3 thoughts on “April 11, 2012 Oh Canada!

  1. Hey Olaf – I see you have visited my home town in Canada. I don’t know if I should be proud that Canadians are so polite and patient or insulted because we are so unhelpful?? Living in NZ now I can really say that Canadians are very friendly and VERY patient. The other thing that we have to add to that list is punctuality.
    We could always spot the Canadian here in NZ at any type of function as they are the only ones on time.
    Glad to hear you did in the end make it out of Canada with what sounds like not too much hassle.
    Talk Soon

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