Customs and Differences

Now, I need to tell you Aussies:  if you come to Canada and go to buy a coffee, do not say, “Yeah, I’ll ‘ave a flat white thanks”.  There are a couple of things wrong with this sentence, and if you use it you are guaranteed to leave a trail of puzzled and offended Canadians from one end of the country to the other.  (Codicil:  I have not used this sentence.  I just know you shouldn’t say it).  Also, you should never finish your request, or any request, with the word “thanks”.  “Thank you” should come right at the end of your purchase, and will be replied to by, “You’re welcome”.  If at any time you hear the words, “Excuse me?” you’ll KNOW you’ve messed up big, so you should either hasten slowly to the nearest hole in the ground, or do some quick backtracking.

This is not to say Canadians are touchy or easily offended, quite the opposite in fact.  But there are some things you just should not say here.  And FFS leave a tip.  Most service staff are only on minimum wages, heaps less that Australian workers.  They survive on tips.

So, if you ask for a flat white, they won’t know what the hell you’re talking about.  It’s just coffee here, not flat, long, black, white, brindle or striped for that matter.  Nice and simple.  You don’t get milk in it, thus making it white, either.  You ask for cream.  For example, if I wanted a coffee with two creams and two sugars – not that I’d ever have such unhealthy additives in my coffee, oh no, never never  😉  – I’d walk into Tim’s and ask for a “large coffee double-double, please”.

So just remember that, all of you.  I don’t want any of you coming over here and giving Aussielanders a bad name.

The toilets are different here, too.  By the way, they’re not toilets, they’re “washrooms” or “bathrooms”.  Unlike Australian toilets, they don’t flush with an ear-splitting torrent of water enough to wake the neighbourhood.  It’s more a slow, refined gurgle, anti-clockwise, where the water completely drains, then refills.  And it refills to half the bowl, not just 1/4 pint or so at the bottom.  First time I saw that, years ago, I thought, “Dang, this dunny’s blocked up”.  But no, they’re all like that.  Just the way it is in North America.

Anyway, thought some of you may have had burning questions about whether the toilets over here are any different.  This is what they look like, so don’t go freaking out and ringing the plumber:

Enough about toilets!  If I have offended anyone by rabbling on about them, I apologise.

Been reading the Globe and Mail, which is one of Canada’s main newspapers.  Like newspapers around the world, there are stories about wars and terrorism in distant parts.  It reminds me of one of the things I love about Canada, and which occurred on several occasions last time I was here.  If a Canadian is opposed to some particular government policy, or politician, and feels strongly enough to act, there’s none of this guns/blowing up/bomb threats bullshit.  No, the politician will most likely be approached by the citizen with the grievance and cop a pie in the face!  Back in 2000, one particular pollie by the name of Stockwell Day had a carton of milk poured over him by an angry dairy farmer.  Love it.  If the rest of the world could exchange the violence of guns and bombs for a couple of cream pies, we’d all be in a better place.

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One Response to Customs and Differences

  1. ann says:

    I know, I know, about the coffee… I asked for a coffee at Maccas in LA and the woman asked “What Flavour?” ………..Huh????

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