My Firsthand Encounter with a Canadian Stereotype

This past week I experienced what can be described as a Canadian version of road rage while driving the lovely streets of Ottawa.  I was picking up the kids from school and was in a sour mood from the steady stream of slow-moving traffic.  I had almost been hit by two cars and was feeling tense when a car from the left lane suddenly swung into my lane.  I honked my horn multiple times to let out my frustration as the large truck bogarted his way in, almost clipping my bumper in the process.  I was HOT!! I may have said some words that I later needed to clarify were not suitable to come out of the mouths of babes.  As the guy proceeded to keep waving at me, I made sure to give him the good ol’ middle finger salute, positioned in front of my face so the kids couldn’t see, of course.

What happened next can only be described as what people typically think of when they talk about Canada…politeness (even if I have a suspicion it was meant in a sarcastic, cynical way).  The truck pulled beside me at a red light.  I started to panic thinking that this gentleman was going to berate me and we were going to exchange words not suitable for my G rated audience.  However, my attempts to ignore him were thwarted by my children asking me to roll down my window because “the man wants to talk to you mommy”.  Then…this is the conversation that happened:

Man: “I’m sorry if I ruined your whole day by doing that, lady”

Me: “No, I’m sorry…I overreacted.”

Man: “Really?”

Me: “Yes, really.  Just a long afternoon”

Man: “Well I hope you have a great rest of your day.  Seriously.  And sorry for cutting you off”

Did that just happen??? I think his comment was supposed to be “rude” and impolite, but instead it diffused the situation and made me realize how irrational I was and prompted me to apologize.  And I meant it.  Me being angry felt awesome, but I needed to clarify to my kids not to handle situations like that.  It was a learning experience for all of us.  I had to laugh when retelling the story to my husband.  I mean, I say sorry a lot for things, so maybe Canada was secretly a place I was meant to live, but this was a real life encounter with a Canadian stereotype…in the best way possible.  Is having manners such a bad thing?  I think not.  It certainly took a situation in which I would have fumed all day and turned it into one which I look back at and chuckle.  For that, I say thank you, Ottawa truck driving man.

**As an aside, this would have never happened in Toronto.  Toronto driving rivals NYC and DC for terribleness and makes the devil come out of almost anyone driving***

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