Addicted to novelty since 2001

I’ve Become Countrified

Walking around downtown Toronto, I realized something about myself–I’m totally a country yokel now. Living in a small village on Gozo, I learned to smile at, nod to or greet anybody who you pass in the street. Everybody else does it, and I wanted to fit in.

I guess it doesn’t take very long for that behaviour to become habitual, because I’ve had the impulse to do it here in Toronto. Not on busy streets, obviously, but if I’m out walking early and pass somebody, my impulse is to smile and nod at them. That would never have been the case living in Vancouver.

This is obvious, but big cities obviously discourage this kind of friendly behaviour. It’s a bit of a pity, eh?

12 Responses to “I’ve Become Countrified”

  1. Beth

    Even though I live in Vancouver, I smile and nod at people as I pass them. Have gotten some real dirty looks, confused looks, and people looking away really quickly, but somehow this hasn’t seemed to discourage me. I think I just do it now for my own amusement.

  2. Jeremy Latham

    It is too bad that people in the city always think you want something when you smile and nod…and they’re busy looking away, avoiding eye contact, and thinking of a “safe” way to tell you that they don’t have any change…

  3. Carla

    I walk my kid to school every morning and nod and smile at everyone on the way, as they do me. Same on early morning runs. Although I can’t imagine it downtown, in ‘family’ neighborhoods of Vancouver it’s pretty common. So if this is an issue for you on return to Vancouver, move to a burb.

  4. Derek K. Miller

    It’s also not unusual here in Burnaby, but more on side streets than on main roads like Kingsway. So avoiding contact is probably a high-density, more-likely-to-be-wackos-about neighbourhood thing.

  5. Keira-Anne

    I’m a country girl transplanted in the city, so I always make an effort to greet people I come across. Usually people are taken aback when you offer kindness and courtesies. It’s kinda sad that it’s not normal or expected.

  6. Andrew Ferguson

    I tend to do that when passing people and I’ve been in Vancouver for a few years now.

    It’s just common courtesy; but you are right, it’s a lot more prevalent in small towns.

  7. Scott

    We still nod and say hello in North Vancouver. Thats why I live in North Van – the small town feel.

  8. Sean Hagen

    Getting dirty looks is something I notice whenever I happen to be outside of Vancouver, but I usually get friendly smiles and nods whenever I’m downtown.

  9. Jordan

    Having lived in small towns and in big cities, I agree that population density is a big factor.

    The reactions you get from a friendly smile to passersby in Powell River, Victoria and West Van are varied, but they’re also miles apart from the cold shoulder that one receives (perceives?) on the streets at the Center of the Universe.

  10. Lincoln

    As a full-on victim of countrification, I agree — and it’s kinda nice. Heck, we even wave at three-quarters of the cars that go by us on the street. My SO will ask, “who was that?” I’ll shrug. “Dunno.”

    And then, of course, we’ll kill something and eat it. :P

    As a former Vancouverite, I remember spending two weeks in Newfoundland, and almost peeing laughing as I and my travel partner waved at everyone, just to see them wave back. Fate, it would seem, has a sense of irony…

  11. Erika

    I actually regretted smiling at this one man as I stood up to let him out of the seat on the bus. He didn’t smile back, nor say anything. He never smiles. He just slinks off, hiding behind sunglasses. Thinking about his coldness makes ME feel cold.

    I never noticed a small town feel in N Van but maybe it’s because I grew up there. The greeting thing also seems to vary a bit with culture and how comfortable people are in their new surroundings. I still just find it odd that one can sit next to a person for half an hour and say nothing? Don’t you think?

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