Posts Tagged ‘Chivalry’

Having spent a week in my childhood home in New Brunswick, this summer on my own, I had ample opportunity to consider what it is that defines the province, and it’s people, for me since I am no longer ‘one of them.’

Really being or not being ‘one of them’ is a good place to start. Even though I have been ‘away’ for nearly twenty-one years (and about half of my life), if I were to return, I would be viewed as from there. Whereas a person who has lived there for the past twenty-one years might be viewed as from someplace else, or ‘not from here’, or even new. This is a reality that I was very aware of while I still lived there, and it is reality for any small or predominantly mono-cultural community. Even a small culture within a larger one. It is why, in a larger metropolitan area similar people groups come together. It is just one that has always amused me, when I go back for a visit (and, of course every visit includes at least one query of “so when are you moving back?”).

On another note, chivalry is not dead in New Brunswick! I do not think that I opened a door to a store or other business the entire time I was there. One day I was entering a McDonalds restaurant when a guy ran past me and opened, not just the exterior door for me, but the interior one as well (I contemplated asking him if he could follow me to the restrooms, so that I didn’t have to open those doors either).

Then there was another day … when I was going to McDonalds again (really I did not spend my entire vacation at McDonald restaurants … I was simply enjoying a coffee and free wi-fi). When I was at the paying, I asked my server if there was an outlet where I could charge my computer, while accessing the wi-fi. She said, “yes there is one, but … Joe is sitting there. As soon as your coffee is up, I will go ask him if he would move to another table.” I did not respond, because I was moving her words around, and around my head, trying to figure out if what I had heard, was indeed what she had said.

Sure enough, off she scurried to ‘Joe’s’ table! And Joe was more than willing to unplug his charging computer, and move to another table, so that I could plug mine in! My head was swirling with wonder … When I finally came to my senses, I suggested to Joe that if he wanted, he could stay right there, and we could share the table (and the outlet). And so he did. And so we two strangers, sat across from each other charging, and typing, and sipping on our coffee, with periodic comments about the weather.

And, speaking of fast food restaurants in New Brunswick … can you say oxymoron? There is nothing FAST in New Brunswick! The day I was at McDonalds, when the guy was opening any door in front of me, there was a lineup of at least twenty people inside, and the cars were around the restaurant, and to the road on the outside. And the employees had the deer in the headlights look … you know looking at the problem in front of them, and not moving a muscle to get let the traffic pass.

Part of the slow service (everywhere) is that New Brunswickers are a very social and friendly people. They will chat your ear off as you are paying for a purchase, asking about your day, where you are from, why you are there (as a former resident of the province, let me tell you, their motivation is not all about being friendly … they are nosy as can be and … you are not from there).

If you are in New Brunswick (or, really, any province from Ontario east) you will notice bilingualism everywhere. Every sign on the road, every government publication, every service from business to public, is available in both English and French. New Brunswick became Canada’s first (and still only) officially bilingual province in 1969 (a very good year 😉 ). The francophone community makes up about one third of the population of the province, with most being Acadian. But, my knowledge of french, in this bilingual province, is far more commonly known there as franglaise … a little french and a little english combined … it makes understanding both languages so much easier 🙂 .

I now live in another province with (unofficial) bilingualism (multilingualism) … but, it is far more related to where the province is going than where it has been. There are no ‘official’ indicators (signs, publications, etc.), but multiculturalism abounds. So, it is always a bit strange when it is everywhere I look while visiting New Brunswick.

There is one more thing I think of when I think of New Brunswick … 80’s music. I am not sure how it happens, but every time I go there, I end up having a rental car thats radio is set to a station that plays hits from the 1980’s. And, every time I am there, I do not really notice the radio station until I have been there for a number of days. I expect that I do not notice because I moved from New Brunswick in 1990 … so the sounds of Kenny Loggins, or Phil Collins or Billy Joel ‘fit’ that environment 😉

I love the salty smell in the air. I love the rolling hills. I love the horizon that goes on forever. I love the red-hued mud of the Bay of Fundy. I love the constant breeze. I love the seafood. I love the covered bridges. I love the sunrises. I love the red autumn leaves. I love the feet of snow, accompanied by the bright sunshine, in winter. I love the sounds of people speaking franglaise. I love the people. These are the things that define New Brunswick, for me … they are they things I miss, and the things that feel innately familiar when I am there.

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