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August 06, 2006

on canada

When I moved to Canada 6 weeks ago, it was the first time since this

in Mexico.JPG

that I had left American soil. And this consisted of hopping across the Mexican border, getting pawed at by little children, offered some (good, I imagine) coke, buying some cheap ass Marlboros and that green guitar up there that T could not live without and hopping back over. It certainly was not enough to get a taste of real life outside American borders.

I have had a taste of life outside American borders now and I have some thoughts.

Allow me to preface this by stating for clarification that I am by no means "a patriot" and have never once ever put my hand over my heart and pledged anything to a piece of fabric and have serious issue flying to any other country just to kill people. Enjoy the native food and nightlife, sure! Shoot the native cooks and clubowners, not so much. Forgive me for this, I was raised in a crazy cult and some things just get embedded into your soul.

So moving to Canada was no problem for me, patriotism-wise. I was quite excited, actually, for some good national healthcare, soft drug laws and cheap sushi.

We have already covered my feelings on the legalization of marijuana, so let's jump right on in to Free Health Care! Which actually isn't free, at all. Yes, everyone gets healthcare and yes you only have to pay like $100 a month for family coverage (which is a savings of, like, a LOT from my premiums in the states) but there are catches. First of all, it seems that how it works is that you go to the doctor, pay him after your visit, go home and then file enough paperwork with BC health care to make a Vogon blush
and then wait to be reimbursed by the province. Which, to their credit, they are shockingly efficient at. But, let's say you are like, homeless, or like really dirt ass poor. I imagine that upfront expense may be a bit beyond some people's means. And I hear that if you need something big like a CAT scan or breast-reduction surgery that you have to wait what ends up being a LONG ASS time.

The doctors offices here, for the most part, seem to all be walk-in medical clinics. You know who else uses the walk-in medical clinic system? The American welfare system, that's who. Ever spent any time in the American welfare system? I have. 16 glorious years. Let me tell you, there are few things as frustrating, demeaning and down-right dirty as the walk-in medical clinic. There is something to be said for the cushy waiting room with the piped in Michael Bolton and the cheesy fake waterfall with purple lights. I like reading Better Homes and Gardens while sipping on complementary apple-spice tea. Waiting on plastic chairs under florescent lights with smelly people for a person who may or may not ever call my name because no one actually has an appointment just doesn't do it for me.

Next subject....Immigrants! I have never lived near a border, so I have never witnesses the problems people in, say, Arizona or Texas do that cause such anger around the immigration issues. The places I have lived have always been pretty cool with people from different places. Ever time I have ever met anyone from Canada or Mexico, it's been sunshine and rainbows. Recipes have been exchanged. Syrup has been consumed. Nice things.

You know something? They don't like Americans here. They really don't like us. Every time I have said that we moved here because my husband got a job, eyebrows shoot up and scowls appear. To their credit, as soon as I explain that he got a promotion and a transfer, the eyebrows go down and the smile reappears, but still. You have to really work to get them to like you. My husband and his boss had to sit down with his entire staff and explain to them that they were just going to have to deal with the fact that he was American because he wasn't going away and there was no amount of complaining they could do that would make him. Because they were PISSED that he was American.

They also seem to think that Americans are stupid. Or maybe they just think that blond, short Americans with 3 small children are stupid. I get told to do more than I can stand. The bus driver the other day told me how to take my stroller off the bus the safe way. Not in the nice let me help you out because you are clearly outnumbered way, either. The you know, you should really do it this way you twit sort of way. Dude, you see this 8 year old? He's mine. I haven't killed him yet. I think I have mastered stroller-pushing skillz.

They are rude. And pushy. And all those things I have tried hard to make sure I am not because I heard those are the things people hate about Americans. Which also make them hypocrites.

And cable TV sucks here, too. If you have Comcast, get on your knees and thank Jesus for it.

And now, of course, I have rambled on too much and lost my train of thought.

Update: Oooh oooh oooh! I remember! Taxes! How could I forget taxes? I don't really have a problem with paying taxes, even if they go to finance wars I disagree with while I'm baking cookies to pay for my kids music teacher. I'll pay them, they'll use them how they want, and that's pretty much that. I also have no problem with taxes on items, like cigarettes. The fact that a pack of smokes cost $11 here, is, well, what you get for smoking that nasty ass shit. But when I go out to the store and pay a GST (general sales tax) on top of a PST (provincial sales tax) on everything, I'm going to grumble a bit. And then, when my husband gets his little monthly bonus check and sixty percent of it is eaten up in taxes, I'm going to be cranky. Is 60% not asking a bit much?

So I'll just say this. America, I never appreciated you. We still have some issues to iron out, but you were alright. And I took you for granted. And I'm sorry.

Posted by Shannon at 01:27 PM