So I was talking to a friend from Calgary who lives in Toronto now, and she was like 'Toronto people are way rude. Like they push old ladies in front of tramcars just to get a seat.' And I was totally poohpooh about it because, hello, Europeans have hewed over the centuries a fine unspoken craft around the art of being rude.
But not in a crass way. For example, they have created and mutually agreed upon, in a totally informal manner, a certain public transportation body language so that they can move through a bus or train during rush hour without actually saying 'please', 'thank you', 'move back please' or 'excuse me.' They do, however, make known their displeasure through a surprising variety of facial expressions (including sneering, frowning, eye-rolling, under-the-breath mumbling, eyebrow raising, and head-shaking) should you speak too loudly or accidentally touch them.
Coming from places like Copenhagen and Berlin, initially, I was just tickled when I noticed people holding doors, smiling, moving aside with nary an irritated look. But that has all come to a sour, sour end.
A few weeks ago we were transferring from our airbnb in Little Portugal all the way to our new house-sitting arrangement in the East. As we have about 8 big suitcases / boxes, we rented a cargo van for the morning. At first, noticing that our downstairs neighbour was parked in the driveway, we dutifully drove to the paid-parking lot at the end of the street. But after a few minutes of packing we saw that the car was gone. Thinking he had gone to work for the day, we decided to park the van on the driveway so we wouldn't have to walk as far with all our things.
Bad. Bad. Bad. Bad idea.
In less than an hour we had loaded up our things (having made several trips up and down the stairs in the process) and were ready to leave. One problem - the neighbour was back, and he was parked directly behind us to block our way out of the driveway.
Nothing speaks louder than blocking someone's way out of a driveway. Or more clearly identifies you as an Asshole of Enormous Magnitude.
Gingerly I knocked on the neighbour's door. In my most apologetic of tones, I said 'I'm sorry, are we parked in your driveway?'
He was having none of that.
"What made you think that you could park there?" (and it sounds way nicer typing it than it sounded when he sneered it at me through a half-open door)
me: "Uhh... Well, we saw that you had left and we only needed to pack up the van because we're moving this morning."
Asshole: "There's NO PARKING THERE. EVER. What part of that don't you understand?"
e: "Okay, I'm very sorry, we didn't know. Is that your car parked behind us?"
Asshole: *shutting door* "Yeah it is."
me: "...we're leaving now so..."
me: "..so, are you going to move?"
Asshole: (from behind the closed door) "I'll get to it when I get to it."
Goooood times, Toronto.
A few minutes later some embarrassed looking ladies ome out the back door, saying that they'll be gone in just a few minutes. Then Asshole of Enormous Magnitude wanders out, briefcase in hand, shaking his hand at us.
"Did you think you could park here? Huh?"
(is there any point to reminding him that we're leaving? For good?)
sshole then goes on to blow off about how he's LATE for a MEETING and I'm like... and we are hindering you how?
Continuing his enraged ranting, I just sneak in a few incendiary remarks to see if I can get him to assault us, for which I would feel totally comfortable suing his ugly ass.
me: "I thought you were late for a meeting, are you leaving or what?"
Jed's like "e're sorry, we were just packing up for half an hour, why are you so angry?"
The guy keeps coming out of the driver's seat to blast off more rage in our direction, and ends with "AND DON'T GO STOMPING UP AND DOWN THE STAIRS."
Is he thick in the skull or what? GOD.
He totally ruined my mood for the rest of the day - not even pasteis de nata from the portuguese bakery made me feel better.