Ross Murray's Border Report
Ross Murray
Ross Murray
is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, Quebec. You can reach him at
Posted 05.06.06
Stanstead, Quebec


To the bold go the doughnuts

A couple of weeks ago, we had to drive to Lennoxville, Quebec, with a passel of kids and we promised we'd take them to McDonald's for some McFries and McMeat.

As we were making our way from the van to the restaurant, a car zoomed into the handicapped parking spot by the entrance. Out of the car came an older man whose only handicap appeared to be a craving for McDonald's fare - a sad affliction but not worthy of a handicap sticker on your car, and sure enough his had none.

My mob stood at the counter determining whether to order the McLump or the McFat when the man approached us and said, "Do you mind if I go first? I just want a coffee."

We muttered for him to go ahead and so he did. Then I made this really sarcastic comment… after he was out the door and well out of earshot. But you should have heard it!

Two weekends ago, the family was traveling towards the Brockville, Ontario, region, which I like to call the Land of the Classic Rock Station - miles and miles of flat land and nothing but Led Zeppelin on the radio. When we make this journey, we usually make a pit stop at Dorion, which is a good place to regroup after making it across the Island of Montreal. It is also the home of Dorion Suits, a great roadside landmark. Or at least the big sign is - "Aux Habits Dorion."

The store itself is now a martial arts gym. As Kurt Vonnegut would say, so it goes.

We hauled into a Tim Hortons (oh Tim, where did your apostrophe go?) and got into a sizeable lineup running along the edge of the counter. In marched a woman built like a boxer and dressed like she was ready for full-contact fundraising. She strode to the head of the line and placed her order. No apologies. I guess she really, really wanted a doughnut.

No one said a word.

This time, though, I wasn't going to wait until the perpetrator was outside. No sir. I really let her have it. I glared. I bet she could feel it too, right through the back of her perfectly coifed skull.

What is the point of these two stories? That I too often visit fast-food chains? Possibly, but no. The point is that if I were American, I would have done some trash talking.

But I'm Canadian. Canadians are rarely rude so we don't know how to react to overt rudeness.

I take that back. Not "rude" but "bold." They want, they do. It's that simple. They're not going to let a small thing like social conventions get in their way.

If a normal Canadian received an inadequate meal at a restaurant, he would politely eat some of it, complain to his dining companion, tell the waitress "Fine, thank you" when asked how everything is, and pay the bill. The tip would be fifteen percent.

A bold person would eat the entire meal, then complain and refuse to pay. No tip. He would receive a complimentary gift certificate for his next visit.

In the U.S., this scenario would further involve an eventual lawsuit claiming loss of enjoyment of life.

Sometimes I want to be that person. The barger. The taker. The person in the checkout line with only two things who is invited by the person in front to "go ahead," then who proceeds to purchase his two things, cash a cheque, buy cigarettes and lottery tickets, and pay for it all with an ATM card.

Come to think of it, I'd rather be the guy bold enough to yell, "Hey, back of the line, doughnut lady!"