Silent Sentinels

I love Canadians, but we’re a strange bunch.
Every society has its quirks that everyone living in that society thinks are normal… until they go someplace else.
I’ve always loved how relational and family oriented my Mexican friends are. An interesting quirk is that if you ask some of them to come to something they might tell you “Yes”, but not actually show up. Why? They don’t want to hurt my feelings. It’s cute and quirky.
My first time in Kenya I heard a phrase that I’ll never forget. “We’ll be there at 10am Kenya time”. What was Kenya time? Apparently the same as our time but with an hour or so added on. I thought it was funny. Well, NOW I think it’s funny, I always was a little on the impatient side of things back then (cough cough).
The first time I saw a Filipino bbq on a Sunday afternoon I thought “These guys know how to do it right! Hey, is that an actual pig they’re roasting??” There must have been two hundred people at a picnic! Filipinos have CUZINS!!
I love the diversity we all bring to the table and have always wondered if there’s a particular Canadian quirk that is still true considering we are a mix of all sorts of nationalities? My family brings an Irish love of fight and fun (same thing), mixed with the stubborn efficiency of the Dutch (I can say it:), but is there something that is quirky about ALL of us?
Having done no research, I think I stumbled across what I was looking for at my youngest girl’s school. There are many entrances they utilize in the afternoon dismissal to ease the cramming effect of a million tiny bodies desperate to experience FREEDOM, and I noticed a pattern not of the children, but of their parents.
The entrances up against the streets with very little sidewalk encourage parents to actually interact with each other because they have to or it would be considered rude. I am extremely jealous of the connection that was forced upon them because I love talking to people. But this is not the way it is at Neela’s entrance.
There is simply too much room.
You see, Neela’s school entrance backs onto a play area with a huge green space behind it. The green space is somewhat boundaried (new word) by the roll of the landscaped hill, and it’s the funniest thing to walk behind the school where parents are picking up children and see what I am now calling the Silent Sentinels standing exactly fourteen feet apart from each other all along the hill mostly looking at their phones.
Is this the Canadian Bubble? The hill represents the furthest boundary still considered polite and allowing people to avoid the emotional energy necessary to interact with humans NOT on social media.
Every time I walk past I have a laugh and wonder what someone who didn’t grow up here would think about it? Why is it so hard for us to break the ice? Why do we only gravitate towards people we’ve already talked to before?
I’m not really sure, but it’s quirky and cute.
I’m more like Neela though, she asked the other day if we could move every year? Why? Doesn’t she like her friends and her school and her teacher? Of course! Does she actually want to move? Not really. She just likes adventure, and meeting new people is an adventure!
I walk a lot and always say “Good morning!” Or “Nice dog!” Or verbally interact with every person I come across. It always surprises me to get no response whatsoever, or even sometimes a look of alarm like “I was coming out for a walk specifically so I wouldn’t have to see people”… I still don’t get it.
When I was young I spent some time in the Southern States and some of the inherent friendliness rubbed off on me and I decided I would smile and talk more. I love the adventure of meeting someone new, especially if they’re different.
One time I was talking to a lady at the bank and found out that I had met her daughter the week before. “Oh,” I said “I know who it was! The WEIRD one!”. If looks could kill… I didn’t mean anything by it but that her daughter was cut from a different cloth and it was refreshing! A compliment that I have since learned to rephrase without the word WEIRD.
What I’m really worried about is being studied by NASA’s satellites as they watch us silently guard our tiny patch of standing space at the furthest extremity of decency and wonder what we’re up to.
“We’re not up to anything NASA! It’s just a Canadian thing!”
Corey Kope

Pastor. Father of 4 beauties. Devoted husband, Liverpool fan, and Jesus follower.

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