Carrots and the impending national holiday

Trip Start Jan 09, 2004
Trip End Jul 14, 2004

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Flag of Canada  ,
Thursday, January 22, 2004

Monday, 26th January, is Australia Day, and of course there isn't a public holiday here. No cricket on plasma screens in pubs, just ice hockey. No Sunday night barbeques, but predictions of lots of snow at Banff on Saturday. But that's all right, I prefer ice hockey to cricket, and am looking forward to my first snowfall in Canada rather than just another Sunday night barbie. Nonetheless, there will be celebrations! I'll be heading to the Flying Emu to watch the yabby races and whatever other all-Australian events they conjure up, with some other Aussie students here. The consensus is that Canadian Universities, at least UofC, are better than Australian universities for entertainment value, between the free movies, free gym facilities and easy public transport.

Australia and Canada are so remarkably similar (climate excepted) that little differences are even more noticeable. My 'Canadian Cities and Identity' lecturer is an Australian expatriate who departed Sydney's shores in the 50's and still sees Australia as a class-divided far-flung British colony. He delights in drawing similarities between Australian and Canadian geography and urban systems. I believe these environments shaped us into the equally amiable and laid-back peoples we are today. However little differences are leapt upon and used as a source of torment. My housemates have adopted the term 'heaps good' as a running joke. I've tried to warn them that this isn't proper Australian slang - if they head over to the East Coast people will jeer at them for being Southerners. "Can you say 'piles of good'?" "Yeah, this hot dog has mustard heaps" and "It's heaps of good". Are the type of statements I'm hearing all the time, driving me to homogenise my language as much as possible. It's infuriating having our own stupid colloquialisms thrown back at me.

I went to Subway the other day. There's one in the campus food hall, amongst the other 60 or so outlets. When comparing the contents of my wallet with a housemate we discovered Subway stamps transcend borders, and I was two short of a free sub. I have the same Veggie Delight, cheddar, pepper after the tomatoes no salt, sub every time in Australia. I didn't think that would present a problem here. I got past the bread and then was presented with the cheese issue.

"What type of cheese is that?" I asked, "No, not the orange one."
"White Cheddar?"
"Of course. White cheddar. Yes, that"
All progressed well through the vegetables until I reached the final layer of my sub.
"Carrots? We don't have carrots."
"You don't have carrots? Really?"
"Who puts carrots on a sandwich?"
"Everybody puts carrots on sandwiches in Australia!"
"Well, we don't have any carrot. Is that all?"

Disgruntled, I made my way to the pay point. I am starting to make sense of Canadian coinage, with their Twoonies and pennys and ducks and all. So I was quite pleased with myself in that I managed to gather together three dollars in small change.

"That will be three dollars twenty."
"Three twenty? Can I ask then why it says three dollars up there?"
"That's without tax."
"Why don't you write how much it's actually going to cost?"
"Because that's tax. It's three dollars twenty in total."

I'm never going to get used to tipping people and the crazy taxes here. I went to buy a coffee that was advertised for two fifty and it was... two fifty. There's no continuity in prices, people decide on a whim whether or not to include tax in their costs. When at pubs I just put in a couple of bucks more and hope the Canadians I'm with will figure it out. I like table service at bars though, saves lining up and the need to buy rounds. You just order as you go. However it makes it easier for people who try to be cheapskates at the end of the night. You soon realise the person who can't remember what they drunk have probably drunk the most, and leave them to balance it.

Later at home I was complaining about my subway experience and the tax system to my housemate. We were arguing over the presence of carrots in sandwiches.
"Carrots aren't a salad vegetable!"
"They are! Where else do you get your beta carotene from?"
"They have every other vegetable you could want, why do you care about carrots?"
"Oh yeah... do they have beetroot?
"Beets? You guys put beets on sandwiches? That's so wrong! Beets are a condiment!"

Canadians and Australians still have a lot to learn about each other.
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