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2001–An American Odyssey

This distribution was started in or about 1999, and about 50 of you were on this list in 2001 when I made the decision to go and work in the U.S. Cedar Rapids, IA to be exact. It was supposed to be a permanent move but I only stayed a year (blame in part September 11th). I had lived in the Cedar Rapids area ten years earlier and my “territory” would take me to places where I was very familiar and so I had some connections. It was one of those situations where I only planted one foot because I just wasn’t sure I really wanted to leave Toronto. While I was working in the U.S. I started writing about the experience. I did a lot of comparisons, perhaps because I was sounding out loud the pros and cons of returning to my American roots. Sometimes I made fun of the differences in the lifestyle and the little isms of the Midwest (which I am allowed to do because I lived in the Midwest half my life!).
Recently, one of my team members made a comment that she missed those paragraphs, and so I went digging for what I had written. Periodically, over the next while, I will include in this distribution some of the things I wrote seven years ago. I hope the comments bring a laugh or an aha, or sometimes a chill because of the foreshadowing. Someday I will write a book about the experience and other experiences. I am hoping it will inspire me to do some more analysis about why I am so attached to Toronto.

June 2001


Actually, that is an interesting difference between Canada and the U.S. The fact that the U.S. has so many banks means that it is harder to have electronic banking in the same way as is in Canada. The debit card doesn’t work the same way, nor is the service as good as it is in Canada. A debit card works more like an electronic cheque than a debit card in Canada. And they are available to be used in less places here.

(2008 comment: not much has changed South of the border in this area. Blame legacy systems and challenges with fraud and privacy. There is one positive to living in a country with basically five banks!)

Things They Do Well Here

As I’ve mentioned before, there is nothing interesting about my apartment. It feels sort of like a dorm room. It does however have very good tap water and good water pressure which make it liveable.

This afternoon I filled up my gas tank and realized how much quicker the filling mechanism on a pump is here. You don’t have to hold the handle either if you don’t want to as the clips still work.

(2008 comment: I later discovered that the reason that most Canadian pumps don’t have that clip on the handle is due to an environmental issue. It is too likely that your gas tank will overflow if you use the clips. That said, I really do miss not having to hold the pump handle to fill the tank!)

Things They Don’t Do Well Here

Drivers overuse cruise control. This afternoon I was driving on Interstate 80 coming back from an outlet mall, and virtually everyone had their cruise on different speeds, and no one was passing each other quickly. It makes cars get bunched up together and it is frustrating to deal with when you want to drive faster. I actually think I had a momentary bout with road rage!

(2008 comment: Americans STILL overuse cruise control. I don’t ever use it while I am in Canada but seem to nearly immediately put it on as soon as I am in the states. I think that part of it has to do with managing the risk of getting pulled over by the Patrols and the very fact that there are ten times the level of speed traps in the states).

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