Archive for November, 2009


Rude? You decide.

The scene:

A delivery man has an arm load of boxes and is trying to get into a building, a pedestrian is coming down the sidewalk.

The conversation, in Canada (anywhere but Quebec)

Delivery man, “Eh buddy nice day Eh?”

Pedestrian, “oh plenty nice but what are those clouds all about?”

“Oh aye, might get a little rain nothing to worry over”

“yep sounds ’bout right, here let me get those doors for you”

“Thanks, that makes it a bit easier for me, eh”

“You are most welcome glad to do it”

Same situation but in the US, (at least in central Pa)

“Hey bud, get the door will ya?”



“uh huh”

And just for kicks, the same situation in Quebec.

“La porte Tabarnaque, la porte!”

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Stardate 11/25/09 11:09 pm Mount Nittany Medical Center, emergency room, State College Pa.

Evening started out easily enough sitting around watching TV rejoicing in the fact that tomorrow is a holiday and I took the day after that as a vacation day and then it’s the weekend. Four days off in a row. Suddenly it happens, the phone rings. I hate phones they make loud sudden noises and when you go to shut them up there is somebody on the other end wanting to ‘arghh’ talk to you. The horror!

Well it was my neighbour on the phone, it would have been so much better if it was the neighbours I don’t like, (funny, they never call. I should probably like them). Her husband is away, she had to put her cat down  and she is feeling horrible, has been home all day can’t eat and has been throwing up and really needs a ride to the emergency room. Like I said, good thing my wife and I really like these people or she would be finding her own way. We changed into our respectable street clothes, grabbed the neighbour drove like a crazy people over the thick as pea soup fog covered mountains praying the entire time that a deer doesn’t jump out in front of us, stopping twice only long enough so our neighbour could go stand in the ditch and puke.

My job now is to sit in the waiting room, I’m reasonably sure I can handle this task.  Not many people here tonight and between it being bear hunting season, buck season, drunken thanksgiving and of course smack dab in the middle of the h1N1 scare I kinda thought that this would be the bustling place. Wrong!

My observations;

The people sitting behind me are way to comfortable. They even brought a picnic dinner. I think I’ll go sit closer to them.

Based on the attire of those that do manage to show up it appears that I overdressed for the occasion. Jeans and a T-shirt are out, PJ’s and fuzzy slippers are in.

Uh oh Pregnant lady just walked in. I can assure you I’m not birthing no baby no matter how much they beg. Coast is clear an orderly whom by the way didn’t look that orderly just  took her away.

The public water fountain is making me nervous. In these days of wide spread pandemics, epidemics and academics you would think in a hospital they would do away with such a barbaric device. There are these little hand wipe canisters every two feet and posters on the walls teaching you how to cough without spreading germs, (putting your nose and mouth into the crook of your elbow appears to be the accepted method) But by all means go ahead and use this water fountain that every sick person has been touching WITH THEIR MOUTHS.

I’ve walked another two circuits of the waiting room, not much to report except the two EMT’s standing on the other side of the glass doors which I am forbidden to pass through are far to young to be out this late never mind driving and saving people.

My wife and neighbour are coming through the glass doors on their own volition and my neighbour looks  better than she did when we brought her in and my wife is as beautiful as ever.

All that’s left is the drive home through the thick as pea soup fog covered mountains with the leaping deer and all will be good.

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Being a Canadian living in the States I often get asked what the biggest difference is between Canada and the US. Rather than answering such a complex question I gear the conversation to the culture shock of moving from a large city of two million plus to a town of 5114.

In Montreal I lived in a small building which had 12 units. I didn’t know anybody in the building. In Vancouver I lived in a building which had 8 units. I knew three of the other tenants well enough that we could sit on the front stoop and order a pizza. As for the rest, I would consider myself lucky if I’d recognize them when I saw them on the street.

In Port Matilda, or Port as the locals call it, there is no such thing as ordering in. My wife and I live on the side of a mountain just outside of Port proper, while we love our 11 acres of wooded land away from all the hustle and bustle, sometimes it would be nice to be able to pick up the phone and have food brought to us.

I knew moving from a city the size of Vancouver to a community like Port Matilda was going to be interesting. What I didn’t realize was in a small town my anonymity was going to be a thing of the past. Until one Christmas Denyce sent me a Pfaltzgraf catalogue with all the items she would like nicely circled (sometimes life is easy). Now keep in mind that Pfaltzgraf is a very well known, well established 200 year old flatware company located in York PA.

I am sitting in my apartment 3000 miles away from York and I have the companies 1-800 operator on the phone and I’m completing my order when out of the blue the nice lady on the other end of the line says, “So you are the fiancée over in Canada.”! Now anybody who knows me knows I’m not good at small talk. I’ve told this lady the items I want and where I want them sent, thats it! There is no way she can know this about me. I am stunned, I look around the room for the hidden camera, I look at the phone, I find my voice.

“Excuse me?”

“The fiancée, over in Canada, in Vancouver?” she says

“Um, yeah”

“Oh you are just going to love central Pa and Penn State campus is one of the nicest in the country. I certainly hope you like football because it really is big out that way. I know you are not moving to State College but it is the biggest city in that area and chances are that is where you will find work, unless you stay in the magic business, and what a fascinating business to be in, I don’t think I’ve ever spoken to a magician before…”.

And on she went for a good 5 minutes, I sat on my couch with my jaw on the floor. I tried to figure out what number I dialed, could this be the psychic hot line?

“Excuse me” I interjected, “How do you know all of this?”

“Oh I live a few mountain ranges away over in Lancaster county” as though this explained everything.

“by some coincidence do you know my fiancée?”

“No, not at all, although I’ve been to a Penn State football game once.”

I’m not sure how this explained things. The Penn State stadium is the largest of the college stadiums it is used 6 times a year holds just over 100,000 people and probably a good 200,000 show up for each game and if its supposed to be a good game add another 50,000 people. Yet somehow this 1-800 operator knows all about me because she lives a ‘few’ mountain ranges away and has been to a Penn State football game. I know Denyce had never been to a football game so at this point I’m a little confused, and a lot scared.

“okay, is there anything else you need from me?”

“Well Brian, hold on one second I just wanted to che…oh yes here is the order I was looking for, Denyce’s mother called in a week ago and also placed an order, let me make sure you didn’t order the same products. Nope no duplicates however she did order the gravy boat but not the matching ladle, would you like to add that to your order it would nicely complete the set.”

“Um, yeah sure.”

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This is my first attempt at a blog so I thought I would keep it short and simple.  The title  ‘Panning For Gold’ it actually comes from an off hand comment my ex-father in law said.  We were sitting around the table and his cat, which he had acquired a few weeks earlier, made a horrible stench in the litter box.  My father in law went over and cleaned it out so we wouldn’t have to converse through the tears.  I said that cleaning the litter box was the worst part of owning a cat.  Without missing a beat he said that he liked it, ‘it was like panning for gold’ . I did what I usually do, shrugged my shoulders and quietly rolled my eyes. 

My ex father in law was a very wise and very educated man.  I should have realized then that he never, ever said anything off-hand. Each word was always carefully crafted.  It was many trials and tribulations later that I realized what he was talking about.  Sometimes you have to go through a lot of crap to get to where you want to be. 

I can only hope that in part my blogs are a way, at least for me, to get there with some semblance of understanding.

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