Let’s be frank. Canadians have a reputation for being nice. We say sorry a lot. This is a great country to live in but we don’t like to rub it in people’s faces. We certainly don’t need to wear hats reminding each of it either.
Want to how nice Canadians are?
On Easter, some customers showed up at a Toronto supermarket and found the doors unlocked. Thinking the store was open, they walked in to do some shopping. After discovering that the store was unstaffed, some people walked out with groceries but left a note that they would return the next day to pay. A few called police in case some shoppers couldn’t resist the temptation to empty out the joint. Sure a few people walked off with stuff without paying. But in many places on this planet, that store would have been stripped down to the studs.
So, when the coronavirus spread across the country, every political leader whether on the political right or left stood up and said, “Folks you gotta stay home to beat this virus.” And Canadians did just that.
Canadians started shaming their neighbours who didn’t follow the rules. Hundreds went even further and called snitch lines to report offenders. Those charged with noncompliance received $1,000 fines were overhead saying things like “heck” and “gosh I didn’t know I wasn’t following the rules.” It’s become a thing of pride – I ain’t gone out except to buy essentials, like more toilet paper. I know grandparents who have seen the grandkids in weeks because it’s against the rules.
We haven’t had protests to lift the stay at home rules. Canadians stay put at home and watch the steady stream of COVID-19 statistics on the telly, trying to predict when the peak will come. It’s replaced the daily analysis of hockey scores.
Because Canadians are real good at following rules. And social distancing fits in just fine into Canada’s rule-based psyche. We patiently lineup waiting to get into grocery stores, making sure we stand at least six feet behind the person in front of us. When I go for walks, you can see how careful people are not to invade someone else’s six-foot space.
I actually witnessed a pedestrian traffic jam the other day. A man and a woman walking in opposite directions met and came to a complete stop just outside their six-foot perimeter. The man signalled to the woman to step around him. She waved him off and offered to let him go first. He shook his head and told her that she should go first. Their “After you, Alphonse.”, “No, you first, my dear Gaston!” routine went on for ten minutes. The sidewalk in both directions got backed up for almost three blocks, each person remaining at least six feet behind the person ahead. It was the first Toronto traffic jam in nearly five weeks. Some people in the back of the line came to check out what the hold up was. They yelled to those waiting, “it’s just two people trying to get by each other.”
Finally, police showed up and were able to redirect the other pedestrians and then tried to assist this pair in deciding who would go first. It was finally sorted out when the woman’s husband drove over to take her home.
One of my neighbours was determined to prevent a recurrence. The next day he came out of his house with his mask and a can of paint. By the end of the day, there were ‘one way only” indicators painted on all the sidewalks in the neighbourhood. Of course, everyone follows the new rules.