File 23 Visits That Horrible “Socialist” Canada

Posted: September 5, 2009 in Best of file 23, The Roper Files
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(preface) …My apologies for the last two non-posts, but I’ve been on a long-overdue vacation. It’s taken me a full three days to sort of get back into my normal routine; and Labor Day weekend is so welcome this year.
Don’t have to report back to my menial job until Tuesday which is good. Had to drive back out there early Thursday and get last Thursdays check and I somehow made it through a ten-hour shift without bludgeoning anyone with a crowbar, so I think this kid deserves an Academy Award. Now I get four days to recoup.

In the movie PULP FICTION John Travolta tells Samuel Jackson how “the funny thing about Europe is all the little differences; I mean they got all the same shit they got here it’s just there it’s a little different.”

August16th 2009 322He tells him ( among many other things, but I’m paraphrasing here for brevity) about how they put mayonnaise on french fries in Holland instead of ketchup. Well I just came from a place where they put  cheese and brown gravy on french fries and call them “poutines” and that place was Canada.
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On August 21st I got on a shuttle for the airport at 3am.and departed on a ten-day,4000-mile sojourn utilizing five hours of flying time, 45 minutes on a bus, two hours on a ferry and after one long, long day I finally arrived at Vancouver Island. On the other end of this journey was a woman I had been flirting with online for over a year. A ten-day blind date across an international border? Had I lost my mind? What was I thinking? Well I’m more than happy to tell you I was simply a bored, lonely man who hadn’t taken a real vacation in almost five years. And that it was the best vacation I’ve ever had.
For ten days my life took a total 360-degree spin. I saw things I’ve never seen and did things I’ve never done. And I also re-learned how to do two things I had forgotten how to do: smile and relax. For ten days I quit hating life.
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Over the course of recent years Canada has taken a really bad rap here in the United States. There are a lot of untrue stereotypes portrayed and a lot of misinformation being spread about here by the mainstream media, even on some of my favorite shows that goes beyond “joshing” or “a gentle ribbing” that I find quite over-the-line having actually visited there and taken a good look around with my own four eyes. SOUTH PARK, KING OF THE HILL and even THE SIMPSONS have stood in line and taken some pretty cheap shots at Canada, most of it portraying Canadians as dull, boring non-people. Now anyone who knows anything about propaganda knows, de-humanizing the “enemy” is a fundamental first step to whatever angle you are pushing. So why all the animosity against Canada?
August16th 2009 321After looking around there for ten days, I’m ready to sell everything and move. Canada is beautiful.
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Remember the postcard-colored scenery in that old Desi Arnaz/Lucille Ball movie THE LONG LONG TRAILER? That is what Canada still looks like: America 50 or 60 years ago before they bulldozed and paved over everything.
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 It’s neater and cleaner; the people there don’t litter like it’s a Gawd-given right the way Americans do.
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 Graffiti can be found ( and five will get you ten the above was done by a  tourist)  but you have to look for it. And despite the mining and timber industries, they somehow find a balance that keeps them from obliterating the forests and wildlife. I lived in a farmhouse on a 55-acre plot of land for three years. I saw snakes, scorpions and tarantulas, along with rabbits and an occasional deer; in ten days in Canada I saw not only rabbits and deer but also eagles, ravens, herons, sea lions, otters and three types of whales.
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Oh and for ten days I walked around totally unarmed. Carrying knives through security at the airport isn’t the greatest idea these days so I was forced to leave the pocket-knife I always have on my hip here behind when I packed. And not once did I ever felt like I needed it with me except for maybe cleaning my nails. I’m sure there are some major assholes in Canada somewhere but I only ran into two of them in ten days. Once we got into a misunderstanding about a parking place and another evening some guy mouthed something at me for using the entrance driveway he was using as an exit at a Tim Hortons. Those two non-incidents aside I found the people of Canada to be warm and friendly for the most part. I’m still scratching my head over the US medias animosity towards our Northern neighbor.

Maybe the legendary “BC bud” came into the equation to an extent ( saw one red-eyed girl who looked as if she was having just a little too much fun with some children’s toy at a drugstore in Tofino) but the people there do smile a lot. Didn’t get suspicious “what’s your angle?” stares from anyone.
Mention of my hick Texas accent only came up twice in conversations. From the employees at the airport to the bus drivers to the ferry employees, if I had a question they were more than delighted to answer it or otherwise help me out. No question was too stupid, or if it was they didn’t point it out, and they seemed to genuinely care about whether or not I comprehended their answers.

Some of the accents made this a legit concern; I ate at one restaurant where the waitresses French accent was so thick I don’t think either she or I could really understand each other. Our brief interchanges stopped just short of charades. Also I never seemed to learn to quit asking for iced tea even when I never got it. Instead I would get room-temperature tea in a glass; the concept of ice cubes seems to have escaped Canadians.

It also bears mentioning I felt truly relaxed while I was there; there is an underlying tension in the States I didn’t feel in the air there. Could it be that Canadians really know how to relax, something I really feel gets little more than lip service in the States? Maybe it’s because they are better educated and live longer than we do? Or perhaps it’s because their minimum wage is ten dollars an hour?
Maybe it’s because they don’t live the same rat-race existence there we in the US are so proud of; that of borrowing money for college, then working to pay that off and then retiring and giving what’s left of your savings to the doctor when you get old? I don’t really know but I didn’t feel really worried about anything while I was there; their carefree attitude began to rub off on me.

Did a lot of things I’ve never done here while I was there. Played 5-pin bowling where you try to knock down (ta-da!) five pins instead of ten and with three balls per frame (not as easy as it sounds).

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 Rode a freighter ship up the coast and saw places you can’t drive to.
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 Stood on top of a mountain and looked down at the most unspoiled wilderness I’ve ever seen. Got totally addicted to Tim Horton’s coffee as well as Old Dutch dill-pickle flavored potato chips. Ate Nanaimo bars, Coffee Crisp and Aero candy bars as well as a lot of fish and chips and the aforementioned “poutines”
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Watched sea lions and otters frolic in the water totally unconcerned about me watching them from a boat just a few yards away.
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 Spent a heavenly night with my lady friend at an “adults only” hotel in a $200-a-night room that had no TV, phone or Internet access, only the sound of ocean waves crashing against the nearby beach as our soundtrack.
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 And “get-aways” just don’t get sweeter than that, my dear readers. A true “get-away” it was.
August16th 2009 265Got a first-hand look at their horrible “Socialist” healthcare system while I was there. My friends son had a “cat-scan” scheduled at a hospital. All he had to do was produce a “Care Card” then walk down a hall and they took him in right away. The cost? Nothing. We were in there maybe ten minutes; took us longer to find a place to park.
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And the neat and clean hallways weren’t lined with unattended patients on stretchers like the hospitals here. I didn’t see bleeding shooting or stabbing victims holding towels to their sides in the waiting room like the under-staffed, under-funded county hospital here. I didn’t see people crying into their hands wondering how they were going to pay the bill. Instead they had a Seattles Best coffee bar with a lot of smiling people sitting around enjoying their drinks.


I have medical “insurance”. This week anyway.
Two years ago I developed a lump the size of a golf ball on my er..uh…mid-section. It turned out to be a  hernia. It took me a week to see a doctor. I was available for examination; a doctor was not. It took a full two months before I could get operated on. And then when I was checking into the hospital the woman at the desk said: “Okay, that will be $2500; how are you going to pay for this?” Good question; I told the woman to cover her eyes while I pulled it out of my ass.
Who cared about the danger of my untreated hernia busting inside of me? No one but me.
This one woman and my ability ( or inability; I wound up borrowing the money) to pay for this necessary operation combined were my own personal “death panel”
Now if my friends son had that “cat-scan” performed in the States I wonder how much THAT would have cost HERE? Back in the Middle Ages, doctors used leeches to “cure” people; in the US the leeches are in charge of the medical industry. Just goes to show anyone can succeed here, I guess.

But I’ve careened way off-subject. Or have I? As I said earlier, I didn’t feel the need to be armed while I was there. And my visit to Canada reaffirmed my awareness of that tension I spoke of earlier that I feel in the air here in the States. There is an underlying general anger I feel here. I’ve always known it was there but my visit to Canada made it so much more obvious when I got back.
The one morning I drove into work this week I could smell it when I opened the window on the freeway; I could taste it even. I knew I was back Home the first time someone gave me the finger on the freeway instead of waving at me like you-know-where.


Everyone here seems to be angry about something . (the guy in the middle of the above photo is my hero for life)


Sometimes they don’t even really seem to know what they are angry about, but I see it in the burning eyes in the hateful faces of the working class people here. They’ve been out-sourced and down-sized and ground under the heel of a fascist plutocracy and are just now realizing it. It’s taken them this long to attempt to put two and two together because they’ve been so caught up that whirlpool of making a living, putting food on the table, keeping up with the Joneses etc. And even when they find a few minutes a day to sit down and relax instead of reading a book they turn on the TV to watch reality TV, something they are so addicted to they put televisions on the dash of their cars so they can watch it while they drive.

But even the uneducated masses in this Idiocracy in the world are smart enough to know when they’re getting screwed. It just takes them a little longer to figure it out. And in the meantime I may or may not be standing around to watch, because they may or may not vent their anger in the direction of whoever is really screwing them and find it easier to vent their anger on me as a matter of convenience when that light bulb in their heads finally lights up.
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When those ten days of admiring the beautiful scenery were over I walked through the Death March of Customs and Security at the Vancouver airport more than slightly over-whelmed. My friend “K” has lived there slightly over a year and still hasn’t seen everything. As the long line of travelers waiting to go through Customs lurched slowly towards the two-count ’em-two customs agents on duty, I felt as if I were trudging slowly away from a beautiful dream. Would I suddenly wake up alone back in my bed in Fort Worth and it didn’t all just really happen? I didn’t see the wildlife or the wilderness; they were all just part of a dream….

After jumping through the Customs and Security hoops ( “GOOD Citizen!”) and checking in my suitcase, I walked slowly through the airport looking at the shops advertising their various “duty-free” goods. Had to stop at their Tim Hortons one last time for a chicken-salad sandwich ($3.00) and a large cup of their delicious coffee (about $2.50). Thought it was noble of them not to gouge the travelers; they were charging the same prices as their free-standing stores outside of the airport. August16th 2009 380
Hours later I’m walking through the Denver airport. The water in the drinking fountains is warm as piss. I look through the various kiosks there; micro-bottles of cold water are $3.00 and up. Sandwiches that the Quiznos up the street from my house sell for $5 are $9 at the Quiznos at the Denver airport.
I know, I know; overhead…the cheapest thing in the whole airport are hot dogs at $5 a pop.

And that I believe was the precise moment I knew I was back in America.



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