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jonathan.b

Canadian nuances (Part 3) – Everyone comes with an EULA

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jonathan.b

We all learn things through small bits of information. When you’re thrown into a foreign land, this becomes apparent after the enormity of the situation sobers you up. Perhaps it takes the probing of a curious mind to come to that conclusion? Sometimes it’s these little fragments we see a culture from, the small window of insight we’re given. Before I get even more cryptic on your :censored:, it’s time for a story…

It begins with a story of firsts. My first full time job was being a salesman at a hardware store. My first task was to trundle over to Tim Hortons and buy the staff coffee. My first lesson? Answer: not knowing what the Hell people are talking about.

After one dropped phone call and a brief argument about who was paying, I receive a Tim Hortons coffee-list. I beamed at receiving this task. I’ve bought coffee for plenty people in the past, how hard can it be? So I scan the various hieroglyphs on the coffee-list. My brain collates the L’s and M’s, the number of coffees that take sugar…and then Zach happened.

All he wrote were the words “Orig. L double double”.
“Hey Zach, you didn’t say how many sugars you wanted?”
He says he did. I scan the list.
Nope, I didn’t see it. He continues to explain to me saying “double double” just means two milk and two sugars.

I managed to get everyone coffee that morning and I had a new tool in my arsenal. I had “learned” the language. Remember that part about learning through small pieces? Well this is it. No one said to me “you have to learn how the Canadians order their coffee.” About two years prior to coming to Canada I had cut sugar out of my diet, purely in an attempt to get healthier. This fact deteriorated rapidly after acquiring a new magic power that involves sugar. I remember once or twice going into a Tim Hortons and that letting those two words float out of me like a sigh of relief. I could feel a smile wash into me much like a glug of Dark Roast, but better. I had figured out a teeny part of this cultural algorithm.

On another note, have you ever semi-completed one side of a Rubik’s Cube…and then put it down to smile at you? There’s no time to dig into the rest of it right now. And it’s not worth it. Right now it’s just fine the way it is.

By now I’ve got your that other part of brain ticking…what is this heading all about? This is much harder to articulate to someone than a mere coffee order. Before my fingers run off into the story, let me clear up an acronym that may look familiar to some and strange to others…

Have you ever found yourself shouting at your computer late at night? There’s been at least one occasion where you installed a useful piece of software, and moments before the install process starts you’re asked that one crucial piece of information…do you have a little time to spare to read 34 pages of the End User Licensing Agreement (EULA)? If you’ve ever scrolled through 30 odd pages in 2 seconds and clicked yes and I Agree so heavily your mouse felt a little assaulted in the ordeal, then my friend, you know exactly what I’m talking about. Yes, it’s all the things there could ever go wrong with this electronic beast in front of you. The point I’m trying to make is many Canadians I’ve encountered understand the general laws of society, sometimes they will even tell you. What they don’t realize is when this first happens it annoys the living %&@#! out of you…

Before I rant about the law abiding ways of a Canuck I guess I should put this into a bit of perspective, and give you a little something about the laws in the jungle (i.e. South Africa). This is also a good time to mention that all of my banter packed in my series titled Canadian nuances is based entirely on my experiences. These are just my views and it does not make my feelings and interpretations synonymous with all South Africans. This is just the way I see it. This is looking like the start of my own EULA now…best I continue and avoid it.

In South Africa, Durban, most people don’t obey the law. Obviously I’m not pointing at rape, murder, heists and other heavy weight crimes. I mean the little things. There’s little respect for people in traffic, and there’s a ton more visible road rage among other things. Being a storyteller it’s hard to talk about Africa without leaning too much on the savagery and chaotic energy that often erupts. My point in a nutshell is there is no respect for the other guy on the street. None. The other day I had to pinch myself and realize I had never seen a vehicle jump a red traffic light the entire time I’ve been in Canada. (1 year and 3 months I calculate at the time of writing).

Yes, so it does start to sound crazy. Guess what? It is. I can remember giving a mental sigh after learning that Canada is a law abiding country, and so are its citizens (for the most part). I knew that sticking to the rules based solely on principle would be a tough pill for the Bohemian in me to swallow. At first it was…

On a frosty winter’s day and I’m working outside the hardware store. I’ve been given the task of hanging a banner off the awning at front of the store. I’m armed with zip ties and a ladder. The icy air invigorates me as I climb the aluminium frame. I’m about halfway through the process. My back is turned to the street and I’ve almost fed the pointy end of the zip tie through the little hoop at the top…and then it happened.

A middle age Canadian was walking down the street at a brisk pace. He is about to pass me. He aims his head in my general direction and says “you know you should have someone holding that ladder for you.” I flick my head to where the sound came from, but it seems Bert The Blameless was already out of earshot. I had just been hit with 30 pages of the Canadian EULA.

Soon after this incident I had another disturbing thought creep into my head. “If almost all Canadians stick to the law, does this turn some men into little whiny bitches?” Thankfully, this was not the case. Someone was waving consequence in my face before I had taken the time to figure out the storyline. Technically Bert was right that in the workplace having one man on a ladder is not safe practice, blah blah blah. It’s a weird thing that Canadians have somehow internalized this “common law” and aren’t afraid to tell you so. On the other hand…if I was given the gift of being put back in that same situation I would fail the resist the urge of climbing off the ladder and punching Bert in the face.

Allow me promote this law abiding business in a better light and bury my face-punching fantasies. If you’re using a SkyTrain in Vancouver, which is a pretty efficient train that travels above ground, things can get very busy at rush hour. They could get worse if you fail to follow three pieces of logic (when you’re waiting to board).

1. Wait for the doors to open
2. Wait for the arriving passengers to get off first.
3. Enter the train when the tunnel of faces dissipates.

It’s a simple process. You arrive and then wait for your turn. Lump on a few deadlines, a garrulous smart phone, a gallon of Starbucks igniting the synapses and then patience can evaporate. Fear not my little infidel, this is exactly when the EULA becomes effective! I’ve often heard people say to those impatient people forging ahead onto the bus “you should wait for the others to get off first.” This is when it really makes sense.

I’ll be bold and say I like the idea that says, if a person is acting against the rules just to calmly say to the imbecile in question “look this isn’t the way to do it”. It seems like I’ve spent over 20 years fighting against laws that didn’t hold a sense of integrity. Now to just accept the way things are feels like a release. Maybe the real reason was I felt like I needed to fight against the laws inside of myself? Hmmm…it does raise a few interesting questions in my own head. I can take a step back. I’ve found a real rock to rest on, phew.

Now I think it’s about time I stare at the Rubik’s Cube lying partially completed. Sometimes you just need to stare at the best “answer” you’ve put together at that time. Sometimes that is all we have left. One day I will feel my haphazard collage smile back at me. I’m okay with that.

Blog post: http://wp.me/p7AHk-tP

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Raquel

This is by far one of my biggest concerns about moving over... Following the rules!

Don't get me wrong, I am a "law abiding citizen" as per the South African definition. I don't steal, kill, etc, etc... But jumping a red traffic light just to quickly get across, or speeding.... Or blocking half the yellow lane because the idiot taxi behind you thinks he is the "special one". These are "accepted" rule breakers-right?!?! Or perhaps survival techniques is a better term?!

Following the rules could be very frustrating, like trying to fit a square mould (similar in size to the container) into a round container!!!

Time will tell I guess! :)

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jonathan.b

Thanks Raquel for you input!

I'm still not perfect at following the rules, but it does seem to help when the majority do the same.

Ultimately I see that as a small price to pay for a safer country with a low crime rate.

Oh and another positive...there are no "idiot taxis" here either :P

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Raquel

Agreed, small price to pay for all the positives we will gain :D

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jonathan.b

Raquel, I'm curious which part of Canada are you moving to?

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Raquel

Will be landing in Toronto... Not sure where exactly we will settle yet.

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MaryJane

Hmmm....

I've had some encounter of this "law-abiding" nature of Canadians and must say that it took me some hours to get over my first time and to admit:

a ) that I was indeed in the wrong
b ) that it was not personal in any way at all (what up, bru?!?)

I will add that the most "criminal" (we can use the softer term, mischievous) I've found Canadians to be are on the roads. Now I don't intend to turn this thread into a discussion about Canadian driving. This has already been well covered in other posts. Suffice it to say that they may not be idiot taxis but there are still idiots on the road at times and now you can't identify them a mile away because they look as normal as everybody else.

Please don't take this as a rant whatsoever. Although not always ideal and perfect, Canada works because for the general part, Canadians do follow the rules and are quite a stickler for it (except for some road rules which are accompanied by a cloud of amnesia). An understanding of why the rules are there and if not followed, the consequences, run deeper.

And we, the newcomers, learn. This is part of being Canadianised. As we integrate ourselves into our environment each time, we learn something new, in the way we talk, walk, drive, think... And in the way we just are. In the end, as we become more integrated (upgraded), we change our own EULA make-up. But that's just how updates work, right?

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Guest

You have to start life by resetting the human computer (aka brain) to default just released software settings.

Learn and absorb everything around you. You will never stop receiving updates... If you do then you are not learning. Everytime you speak to a Canadian you learn... No matter how silly you may sound, ask the question at the back of your mind but in the politest way possible and you will be embraced and assisted.

Your accent will get you some leeway and potential suitors too... Because a South African accent is loved by quite a few here.

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M-N

I'm a very "by-the-book" kind of individual. I believe rules are there for a reason and I frown upon anyone who does not adhere to it. As it happens, the Canadians follow the rules, more so than South Africans that's for sure, but you will always find those that don't and that like to rebel against new rules, such as driving over the speed limit in a playground or getting on the bus or train without letting others off and not even mentioning those "drive and texters".

I've seen some people on news sites complaining that Canada is becoming a nanny state whenever a new by-law is introduced but unfortunately for them, they need to follow those rules or face the penalties, which makes my heart all warm and fuzzy. :whistling:

If I had my way, I'd have chips implanted in everyone's brains and every time they step out of line, I'd zap them with a decent amount of voltage, you know, as a reminder that breaking the rules will not go unpunished, but that's just me.

There's probably a reason I am not a parent yet... :D

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jonathan.b

Hmmm....

I've had some encounter of this "law-abiding" nature of Canadians and must say that it took me some hours to get over my first time and to admit:

a ) that I was indeed in the wrong

b ) that it was not personal in any way at all (what up, bru?!?)

I will add that the most "criminal" (we can use the softer term, mischievous) I've found Canadians to be are on the roads. Now I don't intend to turn this thread into a discussion about Canadian driving. This has already been well covered in other posts. Suffice it to say that they may not be idiot taxis but there are still idiots on the road at times and now you can't identify them a mile away because they look as normal as everybody else.

Please don't take this as a rant whatsoever. Although not always ideal and perfect, Canada works because for the general part, Canadians do follow the rules and are quite a stickler for it (except for some road rules which are accompanied by a cloud of amnesia). An understanding of why the rules are there and if not followed, the consequences, run deeper.

And we, the newcomers, learn. This is part of being Canadianised. As we integrate ourselves into our environment each time, we learn something new, in the way we talk, walk, drive, think... And in the way we just are. In the end, as we become more integrated (upgraded), we change our own EULA make-up. But that's just how updates work, right?

MaryJane I totally agree with you. To build on your point a little I'd say the faster ex Saffers accept the fact we need to change and adjust, the country seems easier to handle.

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jonathan.b

M-N have you ever considered a career in law enforcement?

It might suit you better than parenting :P

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jonathan.b

Will be landing in Toronto... Not sure where exactly we will settle yet.

I first landed in Toronto to get my PR status, was the first of many milestones. My only advice about Toronto is to go in spring or summer if you can.

We landed there in the middle of winter, and it was quite the shock to our warm African blood.

The reason I asked is if you ever decide on Vancouver, I'll happily show you around. There's always a lot to learn in a new city ;)

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M-N

M-N have you ever considered a career in law enforcement?

It might suit you better than parenting :P

Well, I use to be a teacher so that probably explain my love for rules. :P

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Nettie

Excellent piece of writing Jonathan b. The end result for me, living in a law abiding society, is almost non existent stress.

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Guest

Thank you for sharing Jonathan, great piece of info and interaction by our fellow forum members.

We all learn things through small bits of information. When you’re thrown into a foreign land, this becomes apparent after the enormity of the situation sobers you up. Perhaps it takes the probing of a curious mind to come to that conclusion? Sometimes it’s these little fragments we see a culture from, the small window of insight we’re given. Before I get even more cryptic on your :censored:, it’s time for a story…

My experience, 50% of the challenge and stress is getting yourself to Canada, that other 50% is the whole settling in process. I always joke, when newly arrived Saffers to Canada tell me that the people here really like their SA accent; I tell them that's a Canadians way of telling you to talk slower so they can understand you. :)

Oh and another positive...there are no "idiot taxis" here either :P

Jonathan, you need to visit the Union Station area in down town Toronto. :) Some of our local Toronto taxi drivers are no better than their cousins in South Africa!

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jonathan.b

Excellent piece of writing Jonathan b. The end result for me, living in a law abiding society, is almost non existent stress.

I agree! It's such a simple need to just want to be safe. Once you are, the whole world opens up...

I remember a girl I used to work with (a former Saffer) said something I'll never forget. To give a little back story, she was 17 years old at the time and had been in Canada a little over 2 years. Her words were more or less...

"Once you start to feel settled in, you'll find the freedom is amazing."

PS - Thank you for the compliment on my writing. I do appreciate it ;)

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jonathan.b

My experience, 50% of the challenge and stress is getting yourself to Canada, that other 50% is the whole settling in process. I always joke, when newly arrived Saffers to Canada tell me that the people here really like their SA accent; I tell them that's a Canadians way of telling you to talk slower so they can understand you. :)

Hahaha that's a good one *looks at the talking slower comment*

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jonathan.b

Thank you for sharing

Jonathan, you need to visit the Union Station area in down town Toronto. :) Some of our local Toronto taxi drivers are no better than their cousins in South Africa!

Sssshhhh...like MaryJane said we're not going to turn this into a bad drivers rant!

Since my brother is in Toronto I may very well go and visit. If I do I'll be sure to take my crash helmet with ;)

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Raquel

I first landed in Toronto to get my PR status, was the first of many milestones. My only advice about Toronto is to go in spring or summer if you can.

We landed there in the middle of winter, and it was quite the shock to our warm African blood.

The reason I asked is if you ever decide on Vancouver, I'll happily show you around. There's always a lot to learn in a new city ;)

Well the landing date is planned for first week in April - So early spring.... :)

May take you up on the offer if we move / visit Vancouver... Thanks :D

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Guest

Sssshhhh...like MaryJane said we're not going to turn this into a bad drivers rant!

Since my brother is in Toronto I may very well go and visit. If I do I'll be sure to take my crash helmet with ;)

We won't. You will be OK having a brother in Toronto. :)

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Guest

Well the landing date is planned for first week in April - So early spring.... :)

May take you up on the offer if we move / visit Vancouver... Thanks :D

Exciting times for you folks in 2016 Raquel!

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Raquel

Exciting times for you folks in 2016 Raquel!

I cannot wait Lawrence! :D going to be a great life changing / challenging year ahead, but we are super excited...

Now for that PPR I have been loitering around for since the end of Nov... :whistling:

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jonathan.b

I'll be holding thumbs for you Raquel! :ilikeit:

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