Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Remembering Our Manners...

Usually Canadians are not flag wavers, or overly patriotic in any way, but occasionally something will get my goat, and out comes the flag. We have a "temp" working in our office and she has been with us since Christmas. She is from the U.K. and lived in the U.S. for a few years until her visa ran out and they told her she could no longer stay there. So, she ended up in Vancouver and ultimately in our office. She's a very nice person, and we have gone for lunch together a couple of times, and she's quite likeable, but over the past few months she has spent hours of time complaining about Canada. "In the U.K. ... blah, blah, blah. In the U.S. ... blah, blah, blah..." "Things are so much better in the U.K. Things are so much better in the U.S. ... blah, blah, blah."

Yesterday a group of us were chatting, and Miss Such-and-Such was complaining about something again, and comparing Canada unfavorably to the U.K. Everyone was agreeing with her -- things are so much better in Romania, things are so much better in India ... It made me feel really sad, like when someone is saying something nasty about someone we love.  I looked around at the group of people, and I said, "Do you realize, of the four of us, I am the only one here who was born in this country? Canada took you in, fed you, housed you, clothed you, gave you employment, educated your children, and gave you medical care." I said, "Both the World Health Organization and the United Nations have rated Canada ahead of the U.K. and the U.S., and I feel very uncomfortable when I hear people constantly bashing my country. So, if you're that unhappy here, I'll be glad give you taxi fare to the airport." Omigosh, was I actually saying that? Well, apparently I was. I said it with a smile, but I got my point across. Afterwards, each of them came to me privately and apologized. Miss Such-and-Such said she had not realized just how bad she must have sounded all these months, knocking the country that is keeping her from being destitute.

I feel rather bad that my patience ran out, because I'm sort of like the Incredible Hulk -- you don't want to make me angry; you wouldn't like me when I'm angry. But I do think if we are a guest in someone else's home, it's a good idea to remember our manners.


Lone Grey Squirrel said...

It's okay. They can say what they like but our Ice Hockey Boys won Olympic Gold, so there!

Anonymous said...

I don't think you should feel bad at all. I live in the US and when I was in the military (the US coast guard) we had a guy married to a woman from the UK and it was all of a sudden like he was born and raised in the UK. All he could talk about was how great the UK was. It was really irritating, especially being in a branch of the military that is supposed to protect our ports and homeland and all he can do is talk about England. You have a right to defend your home and how you feel about it. I just wish I had had the same guts at the time.

Single and Sane said...

If it's any consolation, most Americans love our neighbors to the north, and think of you as wonderfully hospitable people! Never was that proven more than when you took in our travelers and hosted them for days following 9/11.

lakeviewer said...

They are just homesick! It happens to all ex-pats.

Katy said...

I completely understand what you mean Jo. I was born and raised in Houston, which makes me an odd ball most of the time. Its a city of imagrents. Its weird to find people like me who were not only born here, but stayed here, whose whole family lives here.

Most People come here for jobs and because the cost of living is low.

It's popular for newcommers to despise living here, but for some reason, they stay put and keep coming in hordes.

I can get on board with a lot of the complaints, but at the end of the day its a multi-cultural, sophisticated, yet laid back city that doesn't take itself too seriously.

I get the love/hate relationship people have, I just wish they would express their love as vocally as they express their hate.

A human kind of human said...

Jo you must be a saint having patience with her for months. I often complain about my country, but oh dear, if you are a foreigner, DO NOT BELITTLE my country in my presence! You will be told in no uncertain terms where you can go...


Teri said...

LOL Jo... even your "Hulk" comes out sweet! However, I do understand what you mean. Love the "taxi fare" comment!

And it especially irks me when someone who doesn't even live in my country is complaining about how we do things that doesn't affect them. Seriously... when they get their country fixed all perfect maybe they will have more legit reasons to complain. Until then, shut up.

Raevyn said...

A person can only take so much before they will take no more, of just about anything negative. Over the weekend I learned of a incident between a merchant (an immigrant to the US from Germany) whose product I like very much, and to whom I've pointed a LOT of people over the years when they were asking for guidance in that area, and a friend (a Canadian, actually) who is part of an organization that does an annual fundraiser to benefit US veterans, and most recently, they have begun specifically benefiting Operation Ward 57 ( When the merchant learned that this past fall's benefit was going directly to the Ward, he began saying nasty and hateful things about the organization, veterans, and the US military, including that US veterans and military personnel do not deserve to be treated with respect or dignity. In the end, my friend told him that if he is so opposed to the US veterans & military, then he should get the H*#L out of the US and go back to Germany! What the merchant doesn't realize is that his actions will cost him a great deal of business, at least in North Texas, because a majority of his customers in this area are either currently serving, veterans, or have family members/friends who fall into one of those categories.
I am all for free speech, and I respect your right to your beliefs, and your statements, but when you either repeatedly complain and kvetch about a country that you have chosen to make your home, or start trying to run me down for having my own beliefs and supporting those who are willing to lay down their lives for your right to have those beliefs, you are playing with fire!

KrippledWarrior said...

God bless Canada, and her patriots.

DUTA said...

Jo, I think you're too touchy about Canada. You shouldn't. After all, it's a land of immigrants and as such it has many of the dark sides of immigration.

I remember you once wrote a post on Canada's quality of life and you put at the top of your list...variety of restaurants. Well, to many people including myself , variety of restaurants doesn't necessarily point at high quality of life; low crime rate does, moderate weather does. I don't know about the crime rate in your country (I suppose it's fairly high as in all immigrant absorbing countries), but the weather in Canada is far from moderate .

I could have some more things to say on this topic, but my comment is already too long.

L. D. Burgus said...

Respect is necessary for all that one says. I worry about my family in Chicago for their safety. I see states in the US bicker back and forth about who is best and yet we are all about the same. I want to move because I live in too small of a town that has no world view. I really think climate is going to be my preference of what quality of life that I want.
You have every right to make it clear of what you are hearing. Unfortunately I have people in my country who act the very same way.

Susan said...

There's no place like home.
-Dorothy Gale

babbler said...

This is my first visit to your blog, and to Canada for that matter, except a short ride on the ferry to Victoria BC where I had dinner and saw the Empress Hotel. Both of these visits make me want to visit you, and Canada, again! What a fun treehouse you have here! I will be back. "Ta-Ta" for now, Love and smooth sliding, from "Mrs. Slug"

PS - I think it only fair to tell you that I slid over here after visiting Owens blog. I see some familiar faces, it is good to be among friends!

PinkPanthress said...

I LOVE YOU!!! ;)

I so hate it when people come to a Country, and then bad mouth it!
Believe me, if Canada would want me as a permanent resident, I would swoosh down a bottle of Rakı/Whiskey/Wodka/Whatever (I'm afraid of flying) and fly over to you guys there in an instant!

I apologise if anyone of them was a German and/or Turkish! And also for past & future Germans who might do this!
Our Country is like s*ite compared to Canada! *huggles*

Jo said...

LGS, yes! AND the 14th Gold Medal for Canada. *heh*

Dudette, well I do understand people who are proud of their country, but it's never a good idea to run another country down, especially if one happens to live there.

Single and Sane, yes, gosh, I remember that. People were taken into their homes.

Lakeviewer, I understand homesickness, but not to the extent of running one's host country down. It makes me feel bad. And it's done every day, all day, in a really loud voice.

Katy, "I get the love/hate relationship people have, I just wish they would express their love as vocally as they express their hate." Well said!

Anna, well, that's the thing, isn't it? It's okay to say wonderful things about one's home, but it should be left at that.

Teri, “irks” – I like that word. That describes perfectly how I felt. Irked.

Raevyn, I agree completely. My goodness, we all have our own beliefs, either political, religious, etc., etc. and there are certain people with whom we can comfortable have debates about these things. But just outright criticism of my county, that bothers me. And yes, that merchant sounded like he was shooting himself in the foot…! What an idiot.

KrippledWarrior, thank you...!

Duta, I’m not touchy about Canada, I’m touchy about people who choose to move here, avail themselves of all things Canadian, and then whine and complain about it. To me, that is just plain bad manners. And yes, Canada is a country of immigrants, and there are a lot more people who would love to come here, and they should be welcome. On the other hand, if they dislike it so much, they should go home.

L.D. Burgus, to me, it’s like accepting assistance and kindness, and then b*tching about it, when someone bad mouths their hosts. I agree, respect is necessary, and it should go both ways.

Susan, oh yes. Miss Such-and-Such is not in Kansas anymore.

Babbler, welcome! And please do visit again. I’m always happy to meet new people. I’m glad you liked Victoria. It’s very pretty, isn’t it?

Pink Panthress, Believe me, if Canada would want me as a permanent resident, I would swoosh down a bottle of Rakı/Whiskey/Wodka/Whatever (I'm afraid of flying) and fly over to you guys there in an instant! We love people like you. Come on over! And I’m afraid of flying too. Argh.

PinkPanthress said...

Alas, I checked a government page & a 'test', and I am not expedient enough for Canada, so I have to stay here... but one Day, one Day!

About flying, it is just not normal. D:
I mean, if we should be able to fly, how come we hae no wings? ;)

Alicia said...

Amen! I wish more of us would speak up when people are bashing our homeland and they aren't even citizens. I hear it everyday.

PurestGreen said...

I'm always surprised by how much British people speak negatively about their country. There is such little sense of appreciation for it, even though so many people would love to live here. Strange.

DJan said...

Jo, you can tell your friend that she is fortunate to be able to be there in Canada. If I could have afforded to retire in Canada, I would have, but they don't want to take care of me in my old age, and the USA doesn't want to either but they have to, since I've got Medicare. Now all I have to do is find a doctor who will take it.

Whitney Lee said...

I'm the same way in that I can take quite a bit but when I'm done, Watch Out!
There's not a thing in the world wrong with reminding these folks about manners regarding hospitality. Good for you.

Brenda said...

Well.. I.. for one ..have been trying to set some Americans straight on the bad health care in Canada. I have gotten to know several bloggers that live in Canada and none of them complain about anything, except the cold weather every so often. I guess some people just hear things said..once or and there and just assume it is true.
I have had St. Louis friends who were born and raised here and have relocated to other states, and then come back here and go on and on and on about how much BETTER everything is where they live now. It really bores me.....zzzzzzzz. I say..."If you can't say something nice, zip it."

kenju said...

Don't feel badly for speaking up - somebody needed to. They were rude!

Land of shimp said...

Canada is a lovely country, Jo. Vancouver is particularly beautiful. I'm trying to imagine anyone slamming Vancouver and it's a challenging thought to process.

I wonder if there was something more at play, though. You see, I've noticed that there is a trend in communicating when friends get together, and everyone sort of airs their grievances about everything. Communication through complaining has become something of a standard practice.

So I'd be interested to know if this same group of four people had singled out Canada to complain about, or if they'd fallen prey to that strange trend, where talking about everything that you don't like is considered artful conversation.

I mean "you" in the general sense, just to be clear.

But good for you for standing up for Canada. It is a lovely place, that is gaining a truly impressive global profile, as it well should.

tinkerbell the bipolar faerie said...

Today is a day that I agree certain things are much better in the UK. I wouldn't take the WHO's or the UN's advice on where to live ... apparently they haven't spent much time in the DTES ~ most of which smells like ... well, a sewer ... and the poverty and pain ... it's everywhere. In all the "first world" (sorry I hate that word, but use it here to describe what I mean) countries and cities I have visited, I have yet to see such despair, pain, poverty, and addiction left unchecked and basically, neglected and demonized. Apparently, we in Vancouver think people are disposable. How sad that makes me.

As for manners, I'd say we are above average here in Vancouver ... but for a particular group of people who seem unaware of manners and respect. Perhaps you know what I mean ... I cannot describe any further here. Nonetheless, it irritates me to no end when people just muscle their way in front of me getting on and off the bus ... etc etc.

I do agree tho', that at some point those who are here by choice, should stop complaining, or go south of the 49th parallel! LOL.

{Pardon me for sounding irritable, having one of those days where 9 out of every 10 humans irritates me).

x roxanne

Anonymous said...

Much respect to you.

Please have a wonderful Thursday.

pilgrimchick said...

I am very embarrassed to admit to being one of the perpetrators of the behavior you describe here. Several years ago, I lived in the UK, and I did the same thing regarding how I felt about the US. I ended up offending some really great people, and I didn't realize that I gained a lot of perspective that made me more objective about living in the US. Lesson learned.

Cloudia said...

You are a patriot!

Good for you-

Aloha from Hawaii my Friend!

Comfort Spiral

Cloudia said...

Oh! And I love (and admire) Canada!

Cedar said...

HONK, HONK! I love Canada..okay I tease you all at times, but I tease you because I love you. If Palin gets in I would totally vote against her plans for invading Canada...because I would be moving there and I wouldn't want the U.S. invading my new homeland and stuff.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

You are so right. I am not patriotic in the way of those who wave flags at parades, but I also resent and deplore hearing people who have found safe harbor in my country trash it. It's a matter of manners, and humility, and simple gratitude. No one likes to be taken for granted, and that goes for countries, too. I certainly make no claim that the US is perfect, but I love it because it's my native land and those who find a better life here and don't appreciate it should go somewhere else.

Donna said...

Way to go Jo!! You woke them up to what they were doing without considering why they came to Canada in the first place. It was brave of you to state the fact and they did appreciate it being pointed out. Thank you.

Firefly said...

I am just like you. I hate it when people diss South Africa. Yes we have our problems and probably more than a lot of other countries, but if you don't like it what are you still doing here? Well done. We should all do that more.

The Panorama said...

Jo, I understand you and your reaction. However, I do feel that the right to criticise is a basic human right. I have often criticised my own country, India, where I come from. Now I live in Norway and this is my home, now. I love this country but that does not mean I should quietly accept everything meted out to me. I am also giving something back to this country. I am working here, and I have paid taxes.

At one ponit I was holding three jobs ( not fancy jobs but jobs that people here do not really want). I think it all boils to one thing: Respect and to be accepted.
You called ms Such- and such a guest and I think that is unfair too.
A lot of Norwegians here too call my son who is born and brought up here as a guest. It is highly unfair.
Don't take the criticism personally, Jo. It doesn't mean they don't appreciate Canada as a country.
I am sure the same people criticise their home countries too. That is the main reason they chose to leave home. I didn't want to live my life in India because a lot of things bother me but yes, I do miss certain things from my country.
That kind of reaction " I will pay your taxi fare to airport" is a very hurtful thing to say , in my opinion.

Here too if you criticise something , they say " go back home"
Now tell me, what do you say to those who are in your eyes the real Canadians and who criticise Canada? Would you ask them to leave too?

I think once a person has become a citizen and is accepted by the state, we earn right to criticise too. It certainly doesn't mean we don't love the country we live in.
I love Norway but I also love my right to criticise and in a true democracy it is my right as a citizen.
But I do understand yoru reaction, Jo . I really do. Maybe you need to understand theirs too:)

the walking man said...


Jo said...

Thank you for your wonderful comments, everyone. I hope I didn't sound too peevish. I do understand a person's being homesick. I just feel sad when someone choose to live in my country, and then proceeds to trash it, day in and day out, for months. I listened for as long as I could, before I became irked. I love that word irked. *heh* I kept hearing, "It's so much better in the U.K., it's so much better in the U.S." Well ... you know where the airport is.

Wolynski said...

So why doesn't she go back to England?

On the other hand, I live in the USA, have been here 36 years. Initially I fell in love with America and its spirit, but now I find a lot wrong with it - it has definitely changed over the years and not for the better.

So how long before one is no longer a guest and can criticize freely?

By the way, I don't feel that the U.S. has clothed me and fed me and given me opportunity - it's been interesting, but not easy. Any opportunity I have I fought for myself. Nothing was ever handed.

Mia said...

It doesn't bother me when people who live here shitcan my country. They're contributing to society as much as anybody and they have the same rights to complain. What bothers me are the people who've never been here and think they're experts because they saw a 10 minute piece on CNN.

I've complained about every country I've ever lived in. But I know that some places you simply don't complain to the people who were born there. It's territorial.

Paula Slade said...

I totally agree with you Jo, and what you said was appropriate. Obviously she took it to heart.