Canadian politeness and other issues

So I posted a little while ago about how nice Canadians are. Yes, they are generally lovely. Super helpful and polite, friendly and open.

After being here in Toronto three months now, I’ve had a tiny bit of experience with the negative aspects of Canadian politeness. Now, I’ll preface this by saying there’s no doubt my opinion differs greatly from others’ and what is annoying and stifling to me is the zenith of courtesy to others. So I’m not meaning to be judgmental, I’m just noticing my reactions to various things.

1. Lining up: they love a good queue, these Canadians. And for the most part, I appreciate an orderly line. It keeps things clear and fair. But it seems the threshold of ridiculousness resides in a different place for me. Lining up to order coffee? Sure. Lining up at a bus stop for a bus that is yet to arrive? Umm, no. I mean, seriously, why is this necessary? Obviously we want to be fair but this is Canada, where people don’t push ahead anyway! They excuse themselves and everyone takes turns. The line up to nowhere is just taking it too far!

    2. And speaking of lining up to nowhere, what’s with the “form a line metres from the counter and wait patiently to be called forward to order your Tim’s”? I got so annoyed with a bunch of idiots in Timmy’s last week. It was like being in some country town circa 1955! Standing in a line that began seriously at least two metres from the counter where no one was being served! I had no idea it was even a line to order, I thought they must have been waiting for coffees. The old codger at the front says, “excuse me, ma’am, there is a line up here”. I apologised and went to stand at the back but couldn’t stop myself saying, “so why don’t you stand at the counter?” They ignored me. And I promptly left, it was taking forever. These people should try making proper coffee, they’re so slow!

    3. The silly train. And public transport generally actually: don’t get me wrong, the actual system has got some positive elements. But wow, people just accept so much. There are some really ridiculous things going on. This is not so much about politeness but more an example of a fundamental problem in efficiency that exists at least across the GTA. I can’t speak about anywhere else. Here’s the silliness: after a train departs the station, and you’re looking at the monitor showing when the next train departs, the train you just missed is still displayed as having departed for minutes afterwards. Why?! It’s annoying because you think you haven’t missed it but the you see it says it’s departed and you realise you have missed it and it’s just taunting you. I could go on, about lack of integrated, well-priced, user-friendly ticketing systems, drivers who can’t stop at the platform properly or over heating but I’ll stop.

    4. Cheques. They use them here, all the time! Our landlords want post-dated cheques for our rent for six months in advance. The bank want to charge us $50 for a chequebook too! What is this, 1989?! 

    5. The metric system: just frigging stick to one system already, please! It was introduced here in the 70s yet you’ll still see produce for sale by the pound. They can’t make their minds up, you’ll get a random mix of both systems in a grocery catalogue. You know what they thought would help? They wanted people to get a sense of how much a litre is so they started selling milk in one litre bags. What?! So if you want three litres of milk you can buy a big bag containing three single litre bags. And then you need a jug to put the bag in. So stupid. We only buy cartons, we hate the bags, so stupid.

    Oh this post is such a silly rant. But it does illustrate how I’m feeling about being here. I’m starting to feel a little out of place, despite settling in a bit. Only time will tell how this pans out…


    Author: curiosikat

    Writer, editor, linguist, social historian...

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