I remember when I first read the novel The Invisible Man, I was fascinated by his description of being in this huge city and not being seen. Well, that’s pretty much my experience here in Vancouver.
I’ve never lived in a place where I feel utterly invisible. I haven’t quite figured out what that’s about. Some of my colleagues have stated that it’s because of the whole “Canadian politeness” belief. But I call bullshit. I know that I am American and not just an American, but a southern American and there are absolutely cultural norms that we are accustomed to engaging in. Like, we absolutely are serious about our greetings. Greetings are very important. So yeah we say good morning, good afternoon, hello…. I mean isn’t that normal? And we tend to make it a habit of acknowledging a person’s presence even if it’s a stranger. We don’t necessarily greet everyone with a big smile and a grandiose “hello”, but you know, a head nod or a slight smile… just acknowledgment that the person exists. That they share space with me. That they share time. That we’re breathing the same air.
But here, here it’s none of that. There is no greeting and there is no eye contact. There is just simply nothing. It’s as if each individual is navigating the city alone by themselves. I mean it’s like no one else exists. There’s literally no sense of community here. It’s the oddest thing I’ve ever experienced and having now lived in four different countries it is quite jarring.
But you know that’s Vancouver I guess. I really wish I could wrap my brain around it, but I can’t. I just really don’t understand the vibe here. Yes, folks here are really big on outdoorsy stuff. I get it there are mountains, there’s snow, there are bodies of water and lots of bikes…they really really like their bikes. So you would think that people who are so in tune with nature, people who give the appearance of being kind of free spirits, but that’s just not the case. I mean yeah they are in tune with nature. They seem to care about the environment and they are really into their health, but free spirits? No, not at all. I mean I remember when I was at a get together and a group of us started having a conversation about sex (nothing hardcore) very mild stuff. Some folks just really lost their minds. I thought Americans were overly influenced by their puritanical forefathers, but Canadians definitely have us beat.
Oh and that Canadian niceness that people talk about? That’s a myth or I’m gonna say it is a myth according to my experience here. These bammas are not nice.
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