I moved to Canada in 1999, and it took me a while to overcome the culture shock. Bread now has sugar in it, and 110V power outlets are weak. But life is good. I still haven’t gotten used to the fact that people here drink Rootbeer AND ENJOY IT. Poutine is ok, peanut butter and jam and a sandwich are great, but rootbeer… that’s just wrong!
Even after all these years, Canada still offers challenges that throw me for a loop. Rootbeer floats are just one of them. The fact that most Canadians enjoy camping and the outdoors in general is another. It doesn’t matter where I am, I need a proper bathroom. With a toilet that can be flushed, and a hot shower. You go, enjoy your camping trip. I’ll stay behind and watch Netflix.
Another obstacle is the proper formal greeting. I’m still struggling to get that right. People here greet by saying, “Hello,” and then, after a few seconds, when you already think you’re safe, they add “… how are you?”.
So I reply saying something like, “Oh, hi, I’m not really doing all that great today. I have this aching in my chest and my eyes are watering like crazy.” And then I don’t ask them how they are doing in return, because frankly, I don’t really care.
This detailed and up-to-date information on my physical well-being baffles most Canadians. They expect nothing more than “Fine, how are you?”, even if you have an achy chest and watery eyes. They don’t really want to know how you are doing either. They just mean to be friendly and acknowledge you. And like clockwork, I forget. So when I hear the old “How do you do?” at the office and counter with “Not great. I slept like shit”, I still generate blank stares.
Well, excuse me, I’m German. I don’t like rootbeer floats, and outhouses, and if you don’t want to really know how I’m doing, stop asking.