This afternoon I spent it, as all good salesmen should, sipping beers around town trying to drum up business and rapport with the staff. I affectionately call it "Rotating the stock".
Bellied up to the bar at one of my new "locals" I met a postman trying to drown out the cold Alberta Clipper that has gripped my new fair city. We started talking.
Was I from England?
No. (I get all kinds of wild guesses at my accent. In truth, it's really like Ottawa Valley crossed with East Coast; don't ask)
Did I like SW beer?
Yes. It's a hobby turned occupation for me.
What did I think of Calgary?
Very nice. Exceedingly friendly.
And that's when the veil started to slip.
A- "Well, you'll see. It's not that friendly. I was born in Tilsonburg, and old timers still rag on me for being from out east."
B- "Sheesh! How long did you live in Tilsonburg? I'm from close by those parts. My father used to listen to 101.3 Easy Listening all the time in the car. Drove us nuts."
A- "Three years. We moved to Calgary when I was three."
B- "And the old timers still consider you 'from out east'?"
A- "Yup. Alberta's rich. The richest in Canada. They hate sharing their fortune with a country that doesn't give them anything in return."
B- "Well. . . . I hope they aren't too hard on me."
A- "They will be."
Here comes the bomb.
A- "You'll find that Albertans are pretty conservative."
B- ". . . "
A- "My wife and I, we're pretty open-minded; we have niggers as friends."
B- "! ! !"
I shit you not. He tried to candy-coat his statement by lowering his voice when he said "niggers", but there it was. Like a shiny new bike he'd been dying to ride all winter! I gawked at him. Dropping the "N" word is like having a naked dead baby lying in the corner and trying not to talk about it. But when you think you should maybe mention it, you have no idea where to begin. He let me off the hook.
A- "Hey, we call them that in front of them--they don't mind! I mean, that's what they are. We get along great!"
B- ". . .what do you do for a living?"
Cross burner? Hate-monger? Jim Crow advocate? Grand Master?
Postman. A sub for folks who call in sick.
It should be said that EVERYONE else I met today was exceedingly nice, and didn't bring up gooks, wops, chinks, limeys, retards, midgets, crackers, faggots, or dykes--much to my relief.