Written by Abi Humber Wednesday, 30 January 2008 10:30
I’ve recently made a bunch of Canadian friends and got to visit them over Christmas break with my friend, Sara. We were crazy excited to hang out with them, but couldn’t stop laughing at how randomly different we were, as Americans. The differences we discovered don’t actually matter, but we just found them…odd.
Our first encounter with the strange Canadian culture came less than two hours after our arrival in the Saskatoon airport. Sara and I were staying at our friend Carly’s house. She parked in front, jumped out of her car and said to us, “Just hold on one sec,” as she scampered into the frigid night.
From the passenger seat, I watched her grab something long and orange that seemed to be hanging randomly from the sky and stick it…onto the front of her car?
I was really confused, but as my eyes traced the orange thing away from the car, I realized it wasn’t randomly hanging in the air, but was draped haphazardly over a scraggly little sapling in her yard, then disappeared somewhere around the back of her house.
Then it came to me. The orange thing is an extension cord. Apparently, Canadians plug their cars in. Like, into outlets. Just like you’d plug in a blow dryer, a microwave, a CD player, a vacuum cleaner…. I think you get the point. Only the car wasn’t electric.
Odd, don’t you think? I mean…” Odd, eh?”
I’ve been told that because the temperatures get so frightfully low, the engine block can freeze and consequently decide not to roll over. BAD engine block, BAD!
Well anyway, if one wishes to avoid pointlessly screaming at an engine block that is “playing dead,” he or she can completely eliminate this problem by simply attaching the plugger-in thing into an outlet on the front of the vehicle. This keeps the engine block warm enough to start in the morning, and everyone stays happy.
I was just getting used to the general concept of plugging in cars when it was taken to a new dimension. As we arrived at our friend Jordon’s house for his New Year’s Eve party, we found him hastily scrounging around in his garage trying to find enough extension cords for all the guests to plug their cars in.
In the U.S., hosts might be worried about having enough party hats or something, but no. Canadians worry about a shortage of orange cords.
OK, so I have just been informed by my mother, who has been reading over my shoulder as I work, that this concept isn’t really that strange. Lots of tundra-living Americans plug their cars in, too.
I think I may need to get out more.
Another weird thing about Canadians is the way they say things. So here’s a brief lesson in Canadian phonics.
“About.” Just say it out loud. Did you pronounce it “a-bow-t” or “uh-boat”? Canadians say it the second way. They enjoy showing off their “impressive” uses of the “ohhh” sound.
All right, next word. “Garage.” I’m assuming that by now you get the drill and have just said it out loud. In case you haven’t caught on, I’ll give you another chance. “Garage.”
Pretty much every human I’ve ever known or known about says “grr-awe-j.” But not those crazy Canadians—they don’t play by the rules. They pronounce it, “grr-adge.” Several times throughout everyday conversations, I couldn’t help busting out in laughter when I heard, “Yeah, just pull into the ‘grr-adge.’”
I mean really, who says that?
Canadians also call things funny names. Instead of saying “I’ll call you later,” they say, “I”ll phone you later.” I thought “phone” was a noun. Apparently in Canada it is also a verb. Hmm.
What we might call a “hoodie” or a “sweatshirt” is a “bunnyhug,” at least in Saskatchewan. So even the biggest, toughest looking guy might say “Hey, Abi, will you hand me my bunnyhug?” The whole affair is quite humorous.
Canadians will also tell you they own the Great Lakes. I debate this nearly every time I talk to one of my Canadian friends. He says, “What about Lake ONTARIO?” and I say, “What about Lake MICHIGAN?”
This could go on forever. Who owns those things anyway?
Oh, and as if they aren’t being selfish enough already, they think that both the Rocky Mountains and Niagara Falls are “better” on THEIR side. Pssh.
My friends and I find it interesting how “different” our seemingly similar cultures are. As much as I love arguing over proper English pronunciation and ownership of certain AMERICAN landmarks, Canadians are some of my very favorite people on the planet. And yes, they say “eh.”