Friday, November 01, 2002

This morning on the jitney in San Francisco, two obvious tourists got on. I offered directions & public transportation advice to the couple, who turned out to be from BC. I said I was also Canadian, but had been living in the US for seven years. The woman replied sympathetically "Oh, that must be hard."

I blinked. I hadn't put any negative emotional spin on my statement. What did she mean? Did this random Canadian believe that, living in the US, I must be a victom of vast amounts of crime? Subjected to poor and expensive health care? Suffering from racism? Or simply subjugated by the heavy yoke of capitalism?

I've never thought of living in the US as "hard". Amusing, yes, especially when elections come around. It's a little extra effort deciding to pronounce Z as 'zee' or 'zed', or choosing to write "colour" or "color". But the office jokes about Canadians are so mild they make me feel like one of the team rather than an outsider. The health care system is mysterious used to at times, but I managed to schedule my regular physical with my regular doctor less than one month away from when I called (that's much easier than scheduling an electrician). I have never been a victim of a crime in this country.

The benefits of living in the US are nothing to sneeze at either. I get lower taxes and higher wages (which together offset the higher living cost), and most of all I get to work at an exciting small high-tech company that has a chance of success because of the business laws here.

This isn't intended to try to convince Canadians (or Americans) that living in the US is superior to living in Canada. Canada is cool too, and I'd live there if it worked out that way with my job and my boyfriend. All I want to point out is that it's not so different. If that Canadian tourist has swallowed the demonization of the US and Americans that I've been hearing from north of the border recently, it's from a lack of critical thinking, not because its true.

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