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Short conversations

I’m having coffee at Tim Hortons and in the meantime I’m recharging my laptop and writing this piece. Tonight we’ll be spending our second night in the parking lot of Wal-Mart. This department store chain allows campers with a motorhome to stay for free on their parking lots.

Therefore, we are not hooked up to electricity and the laptop’s battery is almost empty. The Tim Hortons staff allowed me to plug in the power cord into an outlet behind their counter and the cord reached my table. When I sat down the man at the table next to me, who was enjoying his soup and a bun, noticed the cord and he started talking to me. He wanted to know if Tim Hortons offers WiFi and the capacity of my hard disk. We started a short conversation.

He asked what kind of accent I had. “German,” I said. The man told me that his German friend mentioned Germany has many war memorials. I explained him that the Germans still feel guilty, because of the war. The man suggested that Englishmen had done bad things as well and the U.S. today is aspiring world domination – something like Hitler, but in a different way. Then he immediately stressed that he did not mean the people, but the system. Not even Obama, he is a good guy. He thought it was a good thing that a black man is in charge. A woman would even be better. She would govern better, without instigating any wars. “In my opinion people with all kinds of nationalities are living in Canada because there’s hardly any racism”, he said. He had no friends who would harbor such tendencies; otherwise they would not be his friends. Then he suddenly jumped up and disappeared – he probably had some place else to go, right away.

This short conversation is typical of many conversations we had with Canadians so far. They are informed about what’s happening in the world and are not the stereotype of the “American”, which we Europeans have in general. This conversation is also an example of how easy it is to speak to Canadians. They always have a little time for a chat and often want to address deeper issues, even if it is just a short conversation, just like this evening.

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