I wait outside. So as we near the store, Joe veers off and I head to a small outdoor plaza area.
Just as I go up the ramp to the plaza I make a turn to my right. Doing this I cross right into the path of the man coming behind me that I didn’t notice.
When he did this I made the remark, more to myself than him, “We’re so Canadian.”
It’s probably a myth that Canadian’s are a really polite people, but we are a people that readily apologizes.
And it’s true that’s what we do. So that was the context under which I made my remark.
But my remark had a different effect.
The man stopped.
He turned and looked at me.
“What did you say?” he said, I could tell he was emotional and I immediately felt badly, what had I said.
“I’m sorry,” I said, it’s a good go to position.
“No, what did you say? When we almost crashed, what did you say?”
“I said, ‘We’re so Canadian’ we both apologized and that’s what Canadians do.”
It turned out that he was a recent immigrant to Canada from Syria, he was Muslim, and he had been feeling that he wasn’t adapting to the Canadian culture.
“I thought that the only thing that people could see when they looked at me was …” He never finished, he was overcome.
He stepped towards me to shake my hand, I shook his. I said, “Welcome, eh?”
And we both laughed until we cried.