“I mean, sometimes…. I even apologize when people bump into me”.
If I had a loonie for every time that I have overheard a Canadian throw this anecdote in the face of any non-Canadian, then I would be as rich as the Weston family and have enough dough to start my own bread cartel. It is usually said in a matter-of-fact- tone, as if this process has just dawned on them. In a tone that sounds something like: geeeee whiz, you know what I do along with thousands of other Canadians that I just realized?! I say sorry all the time! Isn’t that just the most precious thing that you have ever heard in your life? Awww, please give me all of your love and admiration via Canadian Tire money. Give me all of da love.
What is missing from the context here is the conversation that one may have with oneself, a co-worker, a confidant, or possibly the cashier passing you your sacred double-double that occurs when someone does not offer an apology back for said “bump”. The “Can you believe that?” moment is not a part of the public or global conscious at all. The realization that they are not going to receive an apology from the person will outrage you. Or, that a stranger will have the audacity not to return your unsolicited friendly smile. See ya, nope. Please be nicer to me even though you owe me nothing as being a complete stranger. The way to break a Canadian’s heart is not to say “Well I’m not sorry” or don’t say anything at all. Ever.
There, it’s out there in the world. I guess I am the Canadian whistle-blower on politeness (or would it be called a bear bell for us?). Contrary to popular belief, it does happen all the time, this outrage of lack of polite reciprocation. But don’t tell the Americans this. We might lose our “nice” status. I think we might just be full of pent up anger that we don’t get as much attention as our neighbors south of the border – so we hide behind this nice guy façade. We are all tiny angry men on the inside.
We are assuming the nature of the Canadian with this stereotype. Which is great for the Canadians, and I really should not be complaining. But, self-reflection, and the self-poke is what most Canadians are addicted to. Look at how much we love Letterkenny! That show is addictive! We love the self-reflection. We love that show because television is never about us, and when it is, usually things start to get weird after a couple episodes. It’s just the one time that it didn’t get weird. I mean we can thank the CBC for that and the original content on Canada. I love Murdoch Mysteries but America seems to know how to do a period piece better than we do from time to time, every time.
So why don’t we execute some hypothetical self-reflection. I feel like the most Canadian thing to do is start arguing that we really aren’t that nice. I am predicting that if we weren’t so passive aggressive with our apologies, and started saying “Well I mean we really aren’t all that nice but it’s a nice rep to have” then the narrative would go something like:
American bumps into Canadian co-worker as they both walk into the office kitchen.
“Oops, sorry there bahud!”, says the Canadian.
“Oh, you crazy Canadians always saying sorry!”
“Sorry!”, the Canuck says laughing with a small single-eye twitch as a small piece of their maple flavored soul floats away into the ether as they know what is going to be said next.
“Did you just apologize for saying sorry!?”, the American asks. “That’s too good!”. The Canadian gives up.
“I can’t change who I am Bill, and if you can’t accept that I am a passive individual who can’t cope with their constant lack of identity and feels intimidated by the patriotism of Americans, then you can just leave me alone. I just can’t lie and live like this anymore, eh. I only played hockey for a year. I think Tim’s tastes like burnt unfulfilled dreams. I have no idea why you can’t name one province, and for some reason that makes me want to take all of your pets hostage until you can name all of them. I want to be an asshole to Karen 87% of the time, but I don’t because I don’t have enough confidence to, and I am culturally required to be kind to people to their face so that I can travel and not be confused with your nationality. Personally, I think she over feeds her cats and she nods to Fox News way too much for my comfort, and…”, he utters one more fatal time
“…sorry that’s just how I feel”. His head then explodes and fairies on Zambonis come in and clean up his remains and apologize for the inconvenience of their existence.
Right, ok so there is no way out. Nevermind.
I guess what I am trying to say here is sorry. Sorry for being so passive aggressive. Sorry to other nice countries who don’t get their fair due in politeness. Sorry to the international students who must listen to this garbage all the time about how nice we all are supposed to be. I am so sorry that Americans will never take us seriously. But the best we can do is just ride this pony into the stormy sunset. Cheers.
Also just going to leave this right here: