I love a good sunset. This one in Calgary in July was breathtaking.
The Globe and Mail had an interesting article on the back page this morning titled ‘Calgary is making me nicer’.
As a native Torontonian there are two types of people you meet when you move to Calgary.
There are those who immediately tell you how wonderful Calgary is. “The mountains, the outdoors, the rivers, the Stampede!” These people have no doubt you won’t miss Toronto one bit and can’t imagine why you would have lived there in the first place.
Then they give you their cellphone number so they can meet you for lunch and show you around or invite you over and make you feel welcome. If you were expecting just an e-mail address, forget it. That’s way too impersonal for a Calgarian. They tell you they are looking forward to your call. And they mean it.
Then there is the other type, best personified by a salesgirl I met at a local drugstore when my hairdryer exploded and I went looking for another. The store didn’t have any dryers that were of the quality I wanted, so I asked the woman where I could get a salon-grade hairdryer in Calgary, explaining I was from Toronto and didn’t know my way around yet.
Before I had even finished my sentence she blurted out, “Why would you ever leave Toronto? We have nothing here! We only just got an outlet mall and it’s not even that great. I’m desperately trying to get into nursing school in Toronto so I can get out of here and live in a real city.”
To be sure, after this anti-Calgary outburst, the salesgirl spent more than 20 minutes with me figuring out what I needed and where I lived, then drawing maps and looking up phone numbers of places that might carry what I wanted. She was helpful beyond belief.
And that’s when it started to dawn on me. Calgarians, whether fiercely hometown patriotic or bigger-city wannabes, were not like most of the Torontonians I had lived among all my life before moving here in May for my partner’s work.
Calgarians were nice. Not just polite – but nice. They wanted to talk to you. They wanted to listen to you. They wanted to help you if they could.
If anything reinforced this belief, it was driving. Or walking while other people were driving. On a nice day I decided to go out for a stroll, bringing my jaywalking habits along for the ride.
I was halfway out in the road trying to cross, expecting the cars to come whizzing past me with no regard, when the strangest thing happened. The cars stopped so I could get across. Stopped dead in the middle of traffic! With seemingly no ire that I was disrupting their right of way. No honking. No fist waving. Just a smile and a nod letting me know I was safe to cross.
Read the rest of the article here. The traffic story made me laugh. I still remember moving from Ontario to Alberta and my dad commenting how people would pull over on a 2 lane highway to let you pass. Or maybe it is the sunset and the odd Chinook … but I would agree, people in Calgary are very, very nice.