Tag Archives: culture shock

It’s A Sport

When we made the decision to move to Vancouver Island in British Columbia, we psyched ourselves up for big changes:  rain and gloom in the winter; exorbitantly priced government-administered auto insurance; and laid-back ‘Island Time’ instead of Calgary’s relentless work-hard-play-hard drive.

And speaking of ‘drive’…

Even before we moved, I had an inkling that driving might be, um… different here.  If I was travelling 110 km/hr in Alberta and a vehicle passed me as though I was standing still, I knew it would be either a white Alberta half-ton (for some reason white Alberta half-tons always speed) or a vehicle with BC plates.  And when we went on a holiday a few years ago in the BC interior, we discovered that if we weren’t driving 30 km/hr over the speed limit we were obstructing traffic.

So, fine.  I moved here believing that BC drivers are speed demons.

But they’re not.  They’re just totally nuts.

BC drivers are oblivious to speed limits.  They may travel at 30 km/hr over the posted limit, but they’re equally likely to dip 30 km/hr under the limit for no apparent reason.  And they don’t choose a speed and drive it consistently.  Oh, hell no; that would be boring.  A vehicle pottering along at 80 km/hr in a 120 zone will probably whoosh past doing 140 only a few minutes later.

And passing is a competitive sport here – a slow-moving vehicle is only a fiendish ruse.  The driver toodles along until I signal a lane change and pull up alongside his vehicle, and then he accelerates to match my speed.  And accelerates.  And accelerates some more, until we’re hurtling along side by side much faster than I wanted to go.

When I capitulate and pull in behind him he immediately slows well below the posted limit, all ready to play again when I make another attempt to pass.

If somebody did that on the prairies, I’d know they were purposely messing with me.  But here, the driver just smiles vacantly through the windshield as though he doesn’t have a clue I’m even there.  Hell, he probably doesn’t.  He’s floating along in a happy cannabis-tinted world of his own making.

It’s a testament to the idiocy out here that I drove Calgary’s Deerfoot Trail this December with a sigh of relief.  The Deerfoot is a freeway that cuts through the middle of the city, varying from six to twelve lanes wide and featuring bumper-to-bumper traffic weaving in and out at 100 km/hr.  And I turned to Hubby and said, “Should I be concerned that I’m finding this a relaxing and pleasantly predictable drive?”

But that doesn’t mean I want to move back to Calgary.  Oh hell NO.  The 800+ bulbs I planted last fall are already poking their noses out of the ground, our heather is in bloom, and our baby rhododendrons have fat promising buds.  Spring is just around the corner here, and for that I’m willing to hone my defensive-driving skills.  Like the rest of the BC drivers, I’ll just consider it a sport.

As long as it doesn’t become a full-contact sport, everything will be fine…

P.S. I’m risking my life and sanity doing a road trip today, so I’ll check in this afternoon.  ‘Talk’ to you then!

33 Comments

Filed under Humour, Life

The Four-Letter S-Word

The four-letter S-word:  Snow.  Yep, that’s an expletive around here.

Growing up on the Canadian prairies, snow and bitter winter cold were simple facts of life.  We dressed appropriately and respected the danger; but unless the temperature sank to -40 we carried on.

When I was in my twenties I moved to Calgary, Alberta, and I thought I’d died and gone to heaven.  There was still cold winter weather, but it was regularly punctuated with chinook thaws where the temperature rose above freezing.

But…

Years ago my dad and step-mom used to spend the winter in Victoria, BC.  I visited them frequently, and it never snowed.

Later, Hubby and I came to central Vancouver Island once or twice a year for ten years or so.  We visited in all the “winter” months, and it never snowed.  (Okay, once we saw about an inch, but it melted the next day.)

So after thirty years in Calgary we decided to move to Vancouver Island where ‘it never snows’.

Yeah, right.  We got suckered.

Last winter was the coldest and snowiest on record.  We had about two feet of snow on our yard, and it stayed for a couple of months.

But, hey, that was an anomaly, right?

*snort*

Guess what happened last week?

Yep, about ten inches of sh-… I mean, snow.

Vancouver Island doesn’t deal well with snow, and often the power goes out when the weather is bad.

Fortunately, we knew this.  We’ve wired our house so we can switch over to generator power if necessary.  And it was necessary:  we lost power four times, for several hours each time.

When I was a teenager, our prairie farm was hit by a three-day-long blizzard.  The power went off the first day and was finally restored five days later.  The roads were impassable.  If we hadn’t been prepared, everything in our house would have frozen, including us.

So last week when the snow came down and the lights went out, my brain flipped into DEFCON 1:  “AWOOGA!  AWOOGA!  EXTREME HAZARD!  ALL HANDS ON DECK!”

I scurried around lighting candles, dragging out my big goose down duvet, and helping Hubby get the generator deployed; all the while knowing that WE WILL DIE IF THE GENERATOR QUITS!  What if we run out of gas?  We don’t have our wood-burning backup furnace installed yet, OMIGOD WE’RE GONNA DIE!

Um, no.

The temperature was barely below freezing.  There was no wind.  And even if the roads had been impassable and we had no heat source at all, our neighbours’ place is less than a quarter-mile away.  If we had actually managed to die, it would have been from sheer stupidity.

So maybe eventually I’ll get over my knee-jerk panic over winter power outages; but that sh-… um, snow… is still sticking around.  And it’s barely November.

We’ve been had.

*

P.S.  To be considered a true Islander I have to complain about the snow, but I’m secretly enjoying the pretty white sparkles.  This is the best of both worlds:  I can enjoy the snowscape in my yard, and if I need a break I can drive ten minutes to the coast where the grass is (usually) green and the ocean waves keep rolling in.  Paradise!  🙂

P.P.S Just because I needed a bit more stress in my life, my web host has gone belly-up, taking all my websites and email addresses with it.  If you’ve tried to email me, I apologize – your email has probably vanished into cyberspace.  I hope to be back in action with a new host by tomorrow.  Watch this space for updates…

Update:  I think (hope) everything’s working again… *fingers crossed*

62 Comments

Filed under Humour, Life