In case you were thinking that peculiarity exists only in Northwest Ohio, you would be sorely mistaken. Peculiarity is everywhere.
Case in point, the gentleman I met at Starbucks a few days ago.
Man (sitting in patio chair in 40 degree temps, watching me get out of car): Hey. You’re from Ohio.
Me (glancing at my license plate): So it would seem.
Man: Drew Carey is from Ohio. Cleveland. Ever heard of that?
Me (hoping to get into the door): Yes, I’ve heard of it.
Man: He’s a funny guy, that Drew Carey. So, you live here?
Me: Near here.
Man: I hope you like it here. It’s an OK place. The main problem people here have is that they don’t know what sex they want to be.
Me (wondering if running away is an option): Thanks for the heads up.
Finally inside the store, I marvel at the oddity of it all, order a coffee and begin pondering ways to get back to my car without incurring further conversation. I note the man and his companion had moved indoors to some armchairs in the corner. Perfect! Or so I though until I walked back outside and turned around to get into my car. The man had followed me out.
Me (thinking to myself): Why? Why?! Seriously. Why?!!
Man (holding a box out to me): Hey. Hey! Would you like a Canadian smoke?
Me (seriously half in my car): No, thanks.
Man: Well, why not?
Me (wondering if he is the kind of person I should be watching out for instead of those who can’t figure out what sex they want to be): I don’t smoke.
Man (now practically touching my car): Oh, I thought maybe you smoked.
Me (car in reverse, shaking my head no).
Man (standing forlornly).
Me (driving away): What the heck was that?!
And then, today, I made a quick trip to Walmart. I thought I’d be productive and go early since Husband was walking out the door, too. On an unrelated note, shopping at Walmart at 7:20 a.m. is really the most perfect time to shop because, it’s just you and individuals stocking shelves. Oh, and those five women working at the return counter, each very, very busy sorting through items in carts returned the day before that need to go back onto shelves. As I stood there waiting, waiting and waiting to make a return, I thought to myself that this Walmart sure is lucky to have so many employees concerned with getting returned items back onto shelves.
I eventually made a return, found a cart and a few items, including paint. Yes, I bought paint at Walmart. Two thumbs up! Anyway, the checkout. If there’s one thing Canadian Walmarts have in common with American Walmarts, it’s the checkouts. And how there are never more than two open. At the same time. Ever. I digress again.
There was a gentleman in the line ahead of me (not the same gentleman I met at Starbucks), who was regaling the cashier and the adjoining checkout’s cashier (who wasn’t checking anyone out because, well, it apparently wasn’t very busy) with stories. About a friend who had a sickness and how her family was still having a tough time even six years after, and, what a shame, kids can’t eat peanut butter and jelly in schools anymore (hence the 38 individual Power Bars that had to be individually scanned).
Second Cashier Woman walks in front of me to inspect what is on the conveyor belt.
“Don’t mind me,” she said. “I’m just nosy. Plus, I’m not very busy.”
“You should really use one of these,” she said to me, pointing at the divider. I had assumed the three feet between the gentleman’s last item and my first item would be a sufficient indication that it was, in fact, the end of one order and beginning of a new one. I stood corrected.
Chatter switched then to the holidays and how the American Thanksgiving is almost here and Christmas is fewer than six weeks away. I unfortunately hinted that I might know a thing or two about the American Thanksgiving, which has both cashiers beside themselves with joy that an American is among them. Their words, not mine.
They were elated! One even curtseyed, and exclaimed, “Welcome to Canada! Welcome to Walmart, too!”
Turns out they were both from Trinidad and excited to share with me the excitement they experienced in participating in Toronto’s yearly Caribana festival, a JUMBO three-week Caribbean party.
No, I hadn’t experienced it, yet, I told them. Yes, I would look into it. Yes, Americans celebrate Labor Day. No, I’ve never seen Americans in costume on Labor Day. Yes, I’m sure I’ve never seen Americans in costume on Labor Day. Sure I’d say hi to both of them the next time I was in Walmart.
Sure. Sure thing, indeed.
Strange, indeed. And, proof that, yes, peculiarity is everywhere.