I am a Canadian. I have lived in Canada for the entirety of my life, excluding the time my parents took a shortcut through Maine during a family vacation - I spent the entirety of that trip asleep in the back of the car. The point is, I have very little involvement with the United States, with the possible exception of my preferred hockey team.
And really, that's generally the way it is up here. As a rule, Canadians generally don't worry about American Politics, or U.S. Medicare, or any of those hot button issues. We have our own problems to worry about. Like Polar Bears, or getting enough Maple Syrup for our pancakes. Or Maple Syrup-crazed French Canadian Polar Bears.
Because man, those fuckers are a pain in the ASS.
It is always a surprise when American issues creep up into everyday life. And quite often, I have no idea how to deal with them. I suppose I should just learn to run for "dem dere hills" or something stupid like that.
For example, yesterday. I was sitting at the front desk at my little mall kiosk, reading up on tax law (no, seriously), when I realized there was an ancient old man hovering over me. He had that look that said "while I am harmless now, in my younger days I used to murder hitchhikers and I still keep their ears in an old crackerjack box at the old folks' home"
His T-Shirt said the same thing. In an old english font, to make it look classy.
"Um, can I help you?" I said, immediately after my heart had stopped and jumped up somewhere between my mouth and throat.
"When did Hawaii join the United States?" He asked me, intently.
This was it! My moment to shine! As a lifelong Jeopardy fanatic, this was the chance to show off my mad skills! I tried to think of an answer - it must have been in the 1930s, right? But then I realized this was one of those cases where being a brainiac was a bad idea. I mean, I didn't want to engage this crazy old coot in a historical converation, so I just shrugged.
"1959" he said, proudly. It didn't sound right to me (I mean, Pearl Harbour was attacked in the 40s? How does that work?) but it turns out that, yeah, he's right. At the time, I just smiled and said "That's nice" or something to that effect.
I then went back to my reading, hoping the crazy old bastard would leave. But no. He just kept hovering.
"Obama's a liar".
"Obama. He's a liar. He doesn't have the birth certificate to prove it."
I'd heard of a lot of Americans saying this. I imagine it's pretty common to hear, down there. But up here, it was my first time actually encountering it. And then, following on the footsteps of that crazy announcement, was this gem:
"I don't like a lying black muslim leading the country."
Crazy little fucker, I thought to myself. "Um. Okay."
"Look it up, on your computer. He's a lying black muslim."
"Um. Sir, this computer is for tax purposes. It, uh, has nothing to do with Obama."
"You could look it up... right now."
"I could, but that's not my job. My job is to do taxes. If you'd like help with your taxes..."
Please God, no, please don't let this man need help with his taxes, I thought.
"...Is not paying Canadian taxes this year. Because he's not a Canadian citizen."