So there are three main things that will make me lose my temper:
1. Bad production. I worked at a nightclub for a long time and my father is a promoter – I hate seeing bad gigs, poor sound quality or crap lectures.
2. Rude crowds. I get claustrophobic easily and I hate it when dense crowds of people bump into me.
I had forgotten just how much I hate airports until yesterday. I took a 14 hour flight from London to Saskatoon (via Calgary). Those three hours in Heathrow airport made me angrier, crankier, and more unhappy than anything since I don’t know when. Airports in general are no fun, and Heathrow is unbearable.
I hate crowds, I hate being told what to do, I hate the stress, I hate having to walk half an hour from check-in to the gate, and I hate being stuck in a big nasty corporate machine full of nasty perfumes and shiny make-up and giant bottles of booze. I especially hate it when you have to wait two more hours than you thought. I hate the whole process.
First you line up for an excruciatingly long time. Then some dead-eyed woman checks you in without even really looking at you, which is always kind of spooky and disconcerting. Then you go through security, somebody barks at you to take off your shoes, and they ask you to turn your laptop on (who the hell is going to disguise a bomb as a computer?). THEN you wander through packed crowds of rude people, none of the signs seem to tell you where you’re going, and none of the security guards or stewards are helpful – none of them give a shit, you’re the zillionth person they’ve seen all day, and they’re never going to see you again, they couldn’t care less.
Ack. I HATE Heathrow. It stressed me out to the max.
Six weeks ago I read in the news about a study that had found Heathrow to cause you “more stress than sky diving.” I chuckled at the time at the hyperbole of journalists. Now I think that that sounds about right.
But then, when I got to Calgary, it was all different.
No crowds. No rude people. No horrible inconveniences.
Yeah, the architecture out west is pretty boring, and I of course have reservations about Alabertan economics and politics.
But it was so chilled. And everyone was so NICE. I felt a rush of placid serenity, and I knew I was back in the country of my birth.
Then I saw a Harveys. JOY. And I ordered a poutine.
Mmmm. Tastes like familiarity.
While waiting for my connection, a random middle aged woman asked me where I was going. I said Saskatoon. She was going to Regina, but used to live in Saskatoon – she told me to go to the Berry Barn and get some pie with a friend of mine who lives in Saskatoon. I said I’m sure my friend knew where it was, as Saskatoon was such a small city (pop 200,000). She said “Oh no, Saskatoon is a very big city,” and opened her eyes wide. I almost burst out “Oh my GOD you are SO CUTE can I have you?” It was too adorable for words.
I’m really enjoying Saskatoon. There’s a really chilled out, relaxed vibe over the whole city. Nobody seems to be in a rush. And everyone is nice.
It’s far too small for me to ever imagine living here – I crave the big, bustling behemoth of a city like London or New York, I love having different things to do and people to see every day.
But just for a few days, it’s really really nice to be somewhere quiet, peaceful and serenely nice. It reminds me of what London lacks. I don’t feel like I belong in Canada, but I sure love that it’s there for me when I need it.
September 18, addendum:
Recently a friend remarked to me that I posted too many things on my blog commenting on the differences between people of different nationalities, and that I discussed the topic in general too much, and that it was boring. (My friend, by the way, is French, so he can be a bit of a cold bastard until you get to know him better.)
I was miffed. Not just because I don’t like to be criticized. But also because, damnit, you do see funny differences between people depending on where they come from. It’s called culture. And if people from the same culture didn’t share quirky similarities, there would be no such thing as anthropology. I’m not saying everyone is the same – obviously not, if there’s one thing biology teaches us it’s that everybody is unique. I’m just saying that people from certain places share certain qualities.
This morning I read this piece in The Observer’s music review about Leslie Feist, Canadian singer-songwriter, from the Toronto scene. She used to do more punk and electroclash, but now her music is described as “mature,” “exuberant,” and “pretty.”
Feist says, of her gigs, “The vibe is positive…I feel benevolent safety.” Really reminds me of what I wrote above about arriving in Calgary (where Feist is originally from).
Then the reporter writes this:
“Feist really does talk like this, in an energetic, upbeat way, like a Canadian tourist trying to make friends on the tube.”
I think I’ve made my point.