What are the Unwritten Rules of Culture?

Being back in Canada has been comforting since you understand the language, people respect your personal space and have manners. I forgot that pedestrians have the right of way on the streets here! Last week I was waiting to cross the road and at the same time I was stepping off the curb a car turning left, and a lane away from me, stopped and the driver apologized for trying to go before me. He probably had time to make his turn, which was not easy at this busy intersection. I was shocked, not only did I get to go, but the driver said “sorry” and missed his opening in the traffic. Drivers with patience… rare in China. I may still be waiting if I was in China or have an ear full of beeps. In China pedestrians do not EVER have the right of way on the street or sidewalks for that matter! It was certainly one of those ‘ahhh’ moments… I am home. Canadians are known for their politeness and always saying ‘I’m sorry’.

Conversely we have run into some very rude Canadians which really left a bad taste in our mouth. One incident took place just after I wrote my blog and talked about our love for Tim Hortons. Sacrilege a scandal at Hortons! We went in for a quick coffee and breakfast since we had to be on the road. We were informed that we could not have bacon since it was not ready. When John asked how long it would be she said 4 minutes. By the time she found this out I am sure 3 minutes had since passed!  So John said OK then I’ll have ham…. and make it a combo. I order my things, but now there is only 1 hash-brown so I cannot get one for my combo. Instead they tell me I can have a cookie or muffin. Not what I want for breakfast, but fine I’ll save it for later. So I order the cookie and now she wants to charge me EXTRA for the cookie -like I have ordered a combo AND a cookie. Trying to explain this to her only confused her more. Calling in back up didn’t help as now we had 2 confused employees. This is getting no where so we said take the cookie off the order.  Finally we go to pick up the order and there is NO hash-brown!!! (Bacon is probably REALLY done by now too!) So we ask where it is (wrong question apparently) because we now have the whole process over again with a new person. Apparently this part of the province is suffering from the brain drain or something…. really is this too difficult? They are convinced we did not order one blah blah blah…. was this not part of the combo??? Did we not just order 2 (but really were only getting one)???? Now the line is out the door, the girls behind the counter are totally confused and when trying to explain things no one would listen! Every time I opened my mouth they would turn and speak to someone else! OK now I have a complex, no hash-brown (or bacon) and am dealing with a bunch of idiots! So before someone would blow their last brain cell we left unfortunately hash-brownless 😦

I am starting to discover odd situations DO follow us. As Leslie pointed out…. it must be us, not “China”. Incident number 2 occurred a few days later. We were staying with my parents in Grimsby, which for those of you who don’t know, is a very small town. There is 1 coffee shop that has internet access and we would go everyday and sometimes a few times a day to check e-mail. It was convenient, saved a 15-20 min. drive, had pretty good coffee and food. Well we were asked to leave and not return! Now before you start to wonder about us rebels let me fill you in with our misadventure. Since we have been going a few of the staff started to recognize us. John being outgoing and chatty would talk to the staff. The night in question we were there and John went to the counter to order a drink and as he waited he talked to the girl at the counter. Awhile later he went to chat again as I was looking at the display case and deciding on a dessert. After I ordered and was almost done my brownie this man comes over to the table. We soon discover he is the owner and he does not appreciate us speaking to his staff and taking them away from their work! He started out saying John took her away from her job for 15 minutes, then 20, the 30! (Try 5-10) John tried to explain he was just being friendly and chatting AS HE WAS BUYING SOMETHING besides the other customers have been served. That did not matter…. we should only pay, not talk to his staff. The owner then started to yell at his staff (at the counter) and told her if she wanted a social life go work at McDonald’s! John stepped in and said that wasn’t right and he shouldn’t speak to his employees that way. This is when we were asked to leave and not come back. The guy was totally out of line and rude…. we tried to explain ‘good customer service’ and how you get repeat customers. As we left we had a few customers sitting outside look at us and we explained the situation. They were appalled. One thing for sure, this guy will not be in business for long with this  attitude. How un-Canadian is that? Not to be racist, but I should point out he is a visible minority… maybe his culture does not normally act this way, but he is certainly giving them a bad name by demeaning his employees publicly; no one deserves that. Besides what happened to the unwritten rule that the customer is always right?

Stay tuned for more adventures…

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2 thoughts on “What are the Unwritten Rules of Culture?

  1. Freda Goulet

    Oh Diana, I am sorry to hear about your misadventures in your home town! I used to joke when I was getting ready to retire that I wanted to work at Timmy’s where your “Boobs” have to be bigger than your “IQ”!! Maybe I wasn’t too far off the mark! Hopefully, your remaining time here will be more like what small town Grimsby used to be known as.

  2. Leslie

    LOL Teach you guys for not “conforming” to the order of things. An episode of Seinfield comes to mind =)

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