I am Canadian.
I am now back on Canadian soil. Home country. Proud to be Canadian. Canadian flag sewn onto my backpack, and every chance I get travelling abroad with my family we proudly boast of being Canadian when asked. Fellow travelers seem to naturally navigate towards us on a whole, our smiles resonate to every culture, and we always seem to attract people like a beacon of "welcome to the friendly country" ambassador's abroad. As if we bring our amazing country and people all in a flash of a smile or a polite "thank you", or "I'm sorry"
Friendly, happy, always gracious and courteous in lines or waiting for things. Multiple times saying "Oh I'm Sorry" even when when we weren't involved in the bumping incident in line up, clearly identifies us as the true Canadians, everyone always hears about. I loved that about my fellow Canadians, I wear that ambassador badge with pride. We are fortunate to travel the world, and have made wonderful memories and friends around the globe. Its now fall of 2017, and I've made my way back to Canada from travelling with my two girls, my youngest son, and husband. We've been gone for several months travelling to multiple countries this year. Malta, Greece, Italy, France, Spain, Philippines, Middle East, Morocco, and through the western continent of Africa to name a few. Uniqueness in people, diverse culture, kindness and universal love are painted with a broad brush throughout the world.
Even with the diverse culture, In my experience, I personally found the interaction with people from different countries culturally appropriate, and very easy to be around. Each country certainly is very different from traditional Canadian culture. We really attempted to immerse ourselves in the food, meet new people, embrace local customs. We wanted to ensure a real experience. The life & style of each country. I'm fortunate that my children, for the last 5 years have had the experience to travel the world extensively. Were not rich by any means, and any extra money we save, is certainly not being saved or horded for the kids to get. Nope, were spending it as we go. Travel. Travel the world. We want our children to travel, learn about life outside of the "bubble", outside of our country. Learn about others. Young and old. We learn most about ourselves when we meet others. We've slept in hostels, hotels, couch surfed, slept in the jungles on mats, mud floors, and snuggled in hanging hammocks from the palms. Its been amazing, and have met incredible travelers who eagerly share their amazing experiences with us as well. I truly believe in doing this has taught the kids and I many important values about respect and culture. Patience and tolerance. Truly the words that define us, and us as country.
So I thought.
So after my extensive time away travelling from Canada, I have now gone back to visit my momma', who still lives in my hometown of Winnipeg Manitoba.
Motto: "Friendly Manitoba". Even says so on our licence plates.
I am very proud as a women being raised in a farming prairie province, good down home people, lots of family friendly things to do, safe, and diverse in culture.
That hasn't changed, it still is the same as I remember in many ways. Of course father time has cruelly aged its beauty and charm. Inevitable progress has changed the core of the city to become a larger capital with so many new and modern facilities. Not only to the skylines , but it seems the core of the people itself. A sad reality that everything changes, moves forward, ages, and then renews itself again.
What struck me most profoundly in this short period back, was the interactions with my fellow Canadians. Things I have experience on multiple occasions in such a short time have me gobsmacked. Im so saddened at how people are seemingly so callous, calculated, impatient, entitled, cruel, and painfully obtuse to one another, unless people benefit them in that moment.
Id like to share my experience today.
What has my Canadian hometown come too when a single person so easily can deliberately be cruel to another. A person being outright, without conscious, just plain and downright mean. One person clearly attempting to portray how much more important they are than the person they were speaking too. Elevating their voice, to demean a smaller victim. Casting fear at a person, and insinuating their life was so very busy, too busy to have a horrendous error occur. The injustice and inconvenience of their time, and just how will this situation allow them to continue on their day. Oh the the problems that this error has caused. Ruined the start to their morning. The person speaking, was vibrating. The elevation of the voice, body language, context of what was being said, when I heard, was deplorable. I seriously was under the impression perhaps this person yelling had some physical bodily harm happen to them. Perhaps at the hands of the person apologizing to this customer....
THE CRIME: Missing 1 sugar in her coffee.
As it was 5:30 am, far to early to be up driving my 71 year old spry momma' off to her waitress job shes proudly has had for 30 years, but even more so to have someone verbally assault a godsend... a Tim Horton's worker.
I owe my mornings to them. Coffee hero's. The friendly faces we see every morning, welcoming us on the order speaker or in the storefront as family. Even if its your first time in that location, you always feel welcome, like a home base. A local hangout for young and old, that is acceptable to loiter at. Fresh baked goodies and a pot of fresh coffee are the most succulent aroma's . Its a major stress of a job, fast paced, always so many patrons in line wanting to get a taste of the Canadian tradition we have become addicted too. It been said that the job more stressful than a stock broker or policeman directing traffic in a construction zone. You would think such a simple concept, a wonderful human being serving us zombie folk coffee. Always with a chipper voice and pleasant smile in the wee hours should invoke the love and gratefulness of people. After all, were all clearly too damn lazy to make our own coffee, so like children we run to our " coffee mommy" to make us feel good, and awaken our souls. A Canadian tradition, Tim Horton's. It's that love affair of the first coffee of the morning, before we start the horrible reality of the real world "adulting" day .
My one treat, a lovely fresh brewed Canadian tradition of Tim Horton's coffee, in the drive through. There are 93 Tim Horton's in Winnipeg, a city of 663,617 people. 4,613 stores across Canada. So you can find one easily, and enjoy their amazing coffee and treats.
Now, I would surmise that this horrendous, unforgivable coffee violation happened inside, and the person didn't want to wait in line. Perhaps as not to address the issue in front of the many people in line waiting to get coffee, or that the respect for human decency extended only to the people on that side of the counter. So it was addressed outside, and the angry customer happened to walk beside my car, as I was at the drive through window just waiting to pay. Everyone who's anyone knows... its a definite no no in a drive though. Walking up to it, I mean, that's sacrilege.
I was thrown , since I was waiting for the coffee god/goddess to pass me my morning liquid gold large coffee to start the day happily.
Then, ba bam.... Verbal diarrhea, free flowing, right at my rolled down drivers window. The enraged customer kept standing there, yelling about the incorrect coffee order, blocking my door, erect, waving arms, yelling and vibrating between myself and the drive through window...
It took me a moment to realize what was happening, as I was still in my "this is far to early to be up" fog, and desperately needed this coffee to wake me up.
I listened for a brief moment, then quickly realized what was happening. Something very "non Friendly Manitobian" happened in me.
I smiled at the obviously shaken, stressed, and still apologizing tim hortons women, and calmly and in a soft, caring and understanding voice said to her;
"beautiful lady, do not let this horrible creature dictate your day, you are the most important person in all of these peoples day, especially mine, at this very moment. I appreciate your hard work, your kind smile,and what you are doing for each and every one of us. You are only human, and like us all, we make mistakes. Even if this crude person expects you to be more prefect than a barista' Jesus Christ , she is horrible in her mannerism and should be ashamed of herself"
I kept my words going, as I saw the stress start leave the staff workers face. Their back straightened, eyes lifted, chin went up. Incredibly, it seemed a sense of empowerment happened. I think at that moment the staff realized I was there supporting them and wasn't gonna let this verbal nonsense go on any further.
I continued to say "and despite people who feel they are entitled to be cruel to another human being, they cant"
I smiled at the staff who was a lovely quiet spoken women, and she smiled back, and with that smile, passed a packet of sugar to the women who had been abusive.
Women v. women assault. Blatant and at the crack of dawn.
The staff politely said "Have a wonderful day", with a sense of confidence I felt. Still standing at the window, the employee passed me my coffee, leaning out around the angry women. I asked the women politely to step back so I could get my coffee.
She seemed aghast that I spoke up, and at one point as she was walking away, turned back and it seemed she opened her mouth to say something to me. I didn't hear, either way, I got my amazing coffee, thanked the staff for the coffee, and took that first sip of sunshine. I continued to drive my momma to work singing a song coming from the radio.
In sharing this story with my sister this morning, she advised me at this same location, she personally has witnessed coffee rage.
A few months ago when one car apparently butted ahead of another in the drive thru. The two occupants got out of their respective cars, yelled at one another, and it got physical. Police were called. Arrests were made. Over coffee? What is happening to supposed civilized society? Whats happening to the kind Canadian soul?
Sadly, in my amazing tolerant and diverse country it become acceptable or common place to verbally assault another human being because they made mistake with a coffee order? I get that it happens, defiantly unintentional. I will surmise that this wasn't the first time this worker was treated this way, nor will it be the last.
It certainly should be.
I wonder if the workers ever worry about being verbally abused as they come into work? Is that a real safe environment to work in , mentally healthy? Would the franchise advocate for the employee over the customer? In a western culture where we advocate for pretty much the rights of every indecency known to the human race, yet we treat each other with obtuse indifference. We do not ever allow this treatment in hospitals or doctors offices, in schools or in government offices. We teach our children to be kind, and not be bullies, yet here we are. Why should it be tolerated in this or any workplace. My opinion. it shouldn't. No way would it be tolerated in any of those agencies. So why is it allowed in the food industry? To the very people we rely on every morning to start our day?
Shame on you Canada.
Friendly Manitoba.... indeed