(Another oldie but goodie blogpost from two years back. I thought it might be fun as Thanksgiving has come and gone and Christmas is around the corner – more or less)
Wednesday night, 7pm, I am on my way to a school council meeting in my ¨mami-van¨. It is dark and all of the lights on the houses are lit for the holiday season, even the ones on the police cars. Whoa . . . police cars? Will this be the second time in the past week that I am stopped at a drinking and driving police check? Apparently yes.
This past weekend my husband and I were returning from a cool Christmas party in downtown Toronto complete with magicians, dancing and an Asian/Canadian Flamenco dancer. I really love Toronto for all of its multiculturalism. But what I really love Toronto for is the friendliness of its people. At midnight, as we were driving towards the highway, traffic came to a near standstill. Lucky for us, we were in the warmth of the car unlike the police officers, those guilty of the backlog in traffic. It was a DUI control in the middle of the night in sub-zero temps with a nasty wind chill.
As we rolled up slowly to DUI officer no. 4 in the line, we rolled down our window. Panicked only because police officers make me nervous (at all times of the day in my life, I am sure I did something wrong) , a smiling face came through the window. ¨Hi, how are you two thing evening?¨ she asked my husband and me. ¨Good,¨ answered my husband while I asked if I could have a grande skinny chai latte with half sugar . . . and she laughed. After a few more niceties and a small thank you on our part, we were on our way home and my first DUI check in Canada was, well, really nice and enjoyable.
As my husband and I drive away, we were still in shock as to how friendly the police officer was and we even laughed to imagine how the entire scenario would have played out in Switzerland or Germany. I am quite certain that there would have been no smiling or laughing on the part of the DUI officer had we been in either Germany or Switzerland.
But then this evening, something even stranger happened. As I mentioned, I was on my way to a council meeting at my daughter’s school. Just outside of my house there was a roadblock again set up to catch drunk drivers. Again, I was nervous and fumbled to lower my driver’s side window of my mamivan (a 2010 silver Honda Odyssey, the quintessential minivan) . Nervousness really can be a hindrance. The officer was nice and asked me the usual questions like ¨Have you had a drink tonight?¨ to which I answered a resounding ¨No, its only 7pm (insert cute smile here). It’s a bit early, right?¨ To which the officer said ¨It is the holidays,¨ and then he followed up with, ¨Thank you, and now you can get your coupon ahead.¨ What? What, what? Well, I proceeded forward to get my coupon (I still had not fully grasped what the officer had said) and I received, in fact, a coupon! Granted, it is for a BigMac at McDonalds but I got a coupon for not drinking and driving! I told the officer and one of the MADD reps that this is one of the reasons that I love Canada (and those who know me know that I said this) and they all smiled.
But seriously, this was the most interesting thing that occurred to me in quite some time. And it solidified my feelings of living here in Canada. I love it here. I am constantly in shock how friendly people are, even those in positions of power.
This Christmas has been a bit tough for me, honestly, after 10 years of enjoying the holidays in Germany with its Christmas Markets but little experiences like this, I can live without my gluhwein and bretzel. I really can.
Frohe Weihnachten, y’all!