that I’ve noticed so far about life in Canada.
First of all, I don’t mean to sound judgemental, but I think Saskatonians are very scent-ist. There are signs everywhere:
Please do not wear perfume or strong-scented hand or body lotions in this library/on the buses/in the supermarket/at the swimming pool. Strong scents may bother other people who may be sensitive to them.
I mean, talk about new levels of paranoia for the unsuspecting Irishwoman. I found myself racking my brains at odd venues – had I put perfume on that morning? was my hand cream very scented? (cue surreptitious sniffing) Were there categories of smelly deodorants? (cue more discreet snuffles and odd contortions). The stress of it all.
Toilet doors in some places in Saskatoon are very, very strange. They have a space running all around the door, at least 1cm wide. So I sit down to pee and realise I can see out from all angles. Well then, obviously the people outside can see in from all angles. Nowhere to hide. I try shrinking myself into the very centre of the space. A man must have designed these doors. I exit nonchalantly and corner Jo Ann later. She just laughed. Apparently the etiquette is to wait at the sinks instead of in front of the doors. One lesson learned.
All the light switches work in the opposite direction. Weird, eh?
There are SO many words that are different here. Toilets are washrooms, trolleys are carts, the boot of a car is the trunk, electricity is power, water is hydro, petrol is gas etc. I have been on the receiving end of so many blank looks. Mind you, I’m fairly good at the blank look too. Shopping is a communication nightmare.
There are no 50 cent coins in Canada.
There are some seriously hefty people here. Now I know I’m no lightweight, but some of these people look like they had me for dinner. And the kids! I couldn’t believe it at the Shaw centre. There was one particular boy in the diving pool who was having a great time proving Archimedes’ Principle over and over again. I winced every time he hit the water.
All the sales assistants finish with “You have a great day/evening/weekend”. They say it with complete sincerity, and I always reply with “You too”. Then I encountered the next level in customer service. “So, how has your day been so far, Madam?” asked the sales assistant in Lush (very posh skincare shop in the Midtown Plaza mall – I was there by accident, obviously). I sort of goggled at her, umm-ed and ahh-ed, and then – horrors – proceeded to tell her! Oh God, I can never go there again. But in my defence, she took me by surprise. She really sounded like she wanted to know. She’ll probably never ask anyone again, or at least anyone who looks non-Canadian. Then Michael got the same question in the local shop. Came home bamboozled. So funny. Canadians are so nice.