Archive for November 24th, 2009

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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