What Three Days in Canada Taught Me About Shoes, Cavity Searches, and French Fries

Recently, I travelled to Canada for an academic conference. It was a lovely trip, and I stayed in Montreal for a few days. I was surprised to learn something about my own country from such a short visit. I think a majority of Americans live in a somewhat insulated environment, which is unfortunate because the world is so much greater than just the United States.

Anyways, I learned a few things about America from my three-day stay in Canada, and they may not all be shocking, but they certainly are clarifying.

First—keep your shoes on. I’ve travelled many times before. I’ve travelled across the US, Europe, the Mediterranean, and in all those adventures, I’m always asked to take my shoes off as my body is run through a metal detector or scanner. However, as I made my way through the security in Toronto, the security person told me that I didn’t have to take off my tennis shoes because there was no metal in them. I was like “Really?” It sort of made my day. I know it’s a small thing, but it is an enlightened thing.

Second—What do you mean I don’t get an anal cavity search? I’m paying good money to fly, and I want my ass examined, dammit! When I went through airport security in Toronto, I did the usual: took off my jacket, took off my belt, took off any metal objects, and took off my shoes. As I made my way through the metal detractor, the security person smiled and thanked me. I eyed the full body scanner machine. You know, the machine that can see the full gloriousness of the human form, i.e. penis and testicles, breasts, etc. So, the airport security experience in Canada was rather lovely. It was great, though I wondered how my ass would feel without my normal cavity search or violation.

Hey, at least I can keep my shoes on next time, right?

Third—bilingualism works. Some of the isolationist and crazed nationalist nutjobs in the US have it all wrong. We should not be discouraging bilingualism. We should not be working to make English the national language. We should be encouraging bi, tri, or multilingualism because it works. Yep, that’s right. It works. I encountered people who spoke French, and I encounter people who spoke English. Many switch between the two languages flawlessly, and everyone seemed to get along just fine. My cab driver from my hotel to the airport in Montreal wasn’t French-Canadian, yet he had only positive things to say about French-Canadians. It was great, and it gave me a great opportunity to practice my French.

Wake up, America, and get with the bilingualism. It’s the future, and it works.

Fourth—French fries dipped in mayonnaise instead of ketchup. Ever had it? No? Well, ditch the American tradition of ketchup for mayonnaise (if it’s an aioli, it’s even better!).

Go try it and thank me later. That is all.

Fifth—Canadians lay the smack down on loud assholes. I was sitting in the terminal waiting for my flight home. It was a small gate so there were a few seats in a closed space. I was playing Tetris on my iPhone, and I kept getting distracted by this loud American woman who was waiting for a flight to Atlanta. She was on her phone loudly bitching about something until a mild mannered Canadian man got fed up. It sort of went like this:

American Woman: Yep. Oh, I don’t know what she’s talking about. Nope. [Pause listening on the phone] Oh! YES! YES YES! I don’t know though. Where’s our freakin’ plane, man! I’m tired of waiting. UGH. This place is RIDICULOUS!

Canadian Man: [walks up to the woman and taps her on the shoulder saying quietly] Could you please be quieter? Everyone can hear you.

I watched this happen and smiled. It’s a good thing he was so polite and told her to be quiet because I was about to tell the loud ass American to shut the fuck up. Needless to say, the woman wasn’t happy. She gave the dirty eye to the man, and I gave her the stink eye back. What a bitchy American.

Canada taught me a lot about America. Like, America needs to get with the fucking program and take pointers from our friends to the North. America needs get over its pretentious superiority complex and just live.

For realz, yo.


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