4.01.2015

in which i remember a difference between the u.s. and canada or maybe between new york and everywhere else

I'm in New York for a few days, visiting my mom and some friends. Today at a Whole Foods, my mother said to the cashier, "Don't make the packages too heavy." And the cashier said, "OK."

I was a bit surprised. My mother is a very polite, friendly person. Yet I thought she sounded somewhat rude.

And then I thought, no, this is what people sound like here.

In Canada - even in Mississauga, where supposedly we're practically American - this same conversation "at the cash" sounds like this:

"Hi, how are you today?"

"Fine thanks, and you?"

"I'm doing fine. If you don't mind, could you please not put too much in any one package? I'm not very strong!"

"Oh sure, no problem. Is three bags all right? Or would you prefer four?"

"Three is fine, thank you!"

"Do you need help getting out to your car?"

"No that's fine, I'm good."

"Are you sure?"

"Yes, I promise, I can manage. But thank you for asking, that's very thoughtful of you."

"Have a great day."

"Same to you, thank you."

Maybe people sound like this all over the US, except in the New York City area. Or maybe... it's Canada.




11 comments:

WILLY said...

Or maybe it is just you mom :)

allan said...

I call bullshit on the supposed Canadian exchange because the cashier did not apologize for anything.

johngoldfine said...

You Canadians...weird! New Yorkers, not much better.

Here's how we laconic (tending to boorish) New Englanders deal:

I'm at the Swan Lake Grocery in Swanville Maine. On the counter I set a giant basket to hold all my purchases.

Cashier: Hi, how are you today?
Me: Not bad.

As I'm unloading the cart, the cashier elbows aside my basket and starts packing my stuff in plastic.

Me: Uh....
Cashier [very doubtfully]: Oh, do you want your groceries in the basket?
Me: Mmmm.
Cashier: Oh. Okay.

laura k said...

I call bullshit on the supposed Canadian exchange because the cashier did not apologize for anything.

LOL, I knew I forgot something! Should've worked that in somewhere.

WILLY, it is safe to say that it is not my mom. But thanks. :)

laura k said...

Me: Uh....

Where I live, that would be considered unspeakably rude. No one would tell you that, of course. They would just talk about you behind your back for the rest of your life.

Larry Rosenthal said...

It's Canada. He here on the squishy Left Coast your mother wouldn't have sounded rude.

johngoldfine said...

"Where I live, that would be considered unspeakably rude."

:)

Not sure if it's a matter of cultural difference or individual taste. I'd consider "Could you put my groceries in the basket, please?" moderately insulting, since I'm implying this wasn't a mere trivial oversight but a permanent cashier-intelligence-deficit, requiring specific meliorative instructions.

The one thing for sure is that around here, no matter what you do or say, they are bound to talk about you behind your back for the rest of your life! So! Might as well proceed as you like, since you can't escape it!

impudent strumpet said...

Until I read this, I didn't understand what you'd said elsewhere about Canadians being chattier during business interactions.

I would have said something like "Would you mind making the two bags weigh about the same? Thanks so much, that makes it much easier for me."

I don't know how much of that is Canadian and how much is me talking to my teenage cashier self.

laura k said...

Not sure if it's a matter of cultural difference or individual taste.

There's no question that it's a cultural difference, IMO. I'd much prefer to keep business interactions short and to the point, with a quick please and thank you. It comes down to whether or not you care if people think you're rude. :)

laura k said...

here on the squishy Left Coast your mother wouldn't have sounded rude.

And that's from pathologically friendly Seattle!

laura k said...

Until I read this, I didn't understand what you'd said elsewhere about Canadians being chattier during business interactions.

Of course, they're not always this chatty. But this wouldn't be unusual in Mississauga. Whereas in NYC, it's inconceivable.