Getting all Canadian.

Having grown up in Canada and having lived there for nearly all of my life, I suppose I've always been pretty sheltered as to what the rest of the world thinks of Canadians. Since none of my vacations outside of Canada have ever been longer than a few weeks, I've never really experienced the down and dirty viewpoints on, well, myself and my glorious country. Nor have I ever cared, to be quite honest. I like Canada and generally, I like Canadians. As a whole, we're OK. I've certainly always been proud to call Canada my home.

Well, I've heard my first anti-Canadian comment...apparently Canadians are known for being cheap. In fact, there's even an acronym here...TAC, which stands for "tight ass Canadian". I've learned that, apparently, I am one.

They have a very strange tradition on the Rock that I'm not a big fan of. When a large group goes out to eat together, instead of everyone paying for what they ordered, the split the bill by the number of people at the table and everyone pays their share. Now, this makes sense to me when you're eating at a restaurant where the very nature of the food means that everyone shares - like Indian, for example, or Thai. But that kind of restaurant style simply doesn't exist here - even the Thai place serves individual portions. I'm talking about everyone ordering their own entree and drinks and then just averaging the bill afterwards. Kurt and I have come across this situation a number of times since we've been here and, for the most part, it's left us paying a lot more than we would actually have owed, since we don't usually order big meals (because big meals here are expensive), don't really drink and most of our friends are alcoholics. We've sucked it up though, cursing ourselves the whole way home for not saying something. I'm not talking about a difference of $10 here...we once paid (no joke) $105 for a salad, a burger and two margaritas, just because that is how the table treated the bill and by the time we'd thought to say anything, everyone else had already forked over their portions. They were getting a great deal, since they'd been ordering jug after jug of margaritas. I'm still pissed off about that night.

After a year of buying a house downpayment worth of plane tickets, we've made a conscious decision to lay low for awhile and do everything possible to hit our financial goals for this year. If we stick to it, we should do fine. One of the things we've cut back on (the easiest thing) is eating out - meaning that it was time to stop pussyfooting around those awkward split bills.

Last Friday, we were invited out to meet up with some friends for a casual dinner at a local pub. Well, three of them were our friends, and the other three we'd never met until that evening. I ordered an appetizer ($13) and a drink ($6), and Kurt ordered a burger ($15) and a beer ($5). Total bill for us should have been $50, including a tip (which they graciously include for you on the bill, at 15-20%, no matter how crappy the service is). So, when the bill came and they announced that each person owed $45, I spoke up and said no fucking way. The rest of the table had been drinking glasses of beer large enough to comfortably bathe a cat in, and each had ordered a large entree, with appetizers. I thought that my point would be taken, but one of the guys...hereby known as arrogant English asshole....turns to me, wipes his lips daintily with his napkin and says "well, time to get all Canadian then." He followed this up with an impressive eye roll.


This came after he basically told Kurt and I that having a wedding was just a big show and that if we were in it for all of the right reasons, we would just elope together and spare everyone else the stress. Oh yeah...and we'd only met him about 20 minutes before he unloaded his opinions on everyone, as if we all cared. It was funny until he flat-out insulted us.

I stood my ground though, re-explained my position, and waited it out. Had we had similar orders, we would have been happy to just pay the averaged amount. It's actually much, much easier than trying to split the bill down, but I just couldn't give in this time. Eventually, and thanks to back-up from everyone else at the table minus the two English guys (perhaps it's an English tradition?), it was settled and we paid what we owed. Still, I'd never been insulted for being a Canadian before and I wasn't impressed by the whole situation. It got awkward. But, if "getting all Canadian" means not being dumb enough to pay for strangers to get drunk and eat curry then yeah...sign me up.

It's hard to deal with these kinds of things because when you're on an island this small, social events like this kind of make the world go 'round. There isn't that much else to do, so we look forward to getting together with our friends. However, we're just going to have to find some crafty ways around paying for other people's fishbowls of beer.

Kurt's suggestion? Lobster and champagne, as a rule.



Heather said...

Haha, good for you. That splitting the bill evenly thing is BULL!
Call me cheap, but there is no way I want to fork over my hard earned dollers to some jackass so he/she can drink themselves into oblivion.

Anonymous said...

I can't believe it took you this long to figure out that the only way to benefit from the situation is to order more than everyone at the table. Problem solved.


PS: Whaddaya mean: "I've never really experienced the down and dirty viewpoints on ... my glorious country." Clearly you haven't been listening to me shitting all over Canadians for the last few years.

Anonymous said...

I HATE it hate it hate it when people do that! I would have minor rages when I was pregnant and it was suggested we split. Hmm. No.

I have heard this before: What's the difference between a Canadian and a canoe? The canoe tips (ha ha ha) but I think it was made up because Canadians are clearly so lovely that they were feeling inferior.

Incidentally, Scots have the same reputation (for being 'mean') and they are the most generous and hospitable people I've ever met.

x rachel

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