Friday, December 26, 2008

Boxing Day Delinquents

In Canada, we celebrate the annual day after Christmas as Boxing Day. On this day – which happens to be today – stores across the country discount merchandise to clear out their inventory for the new stuff in the New Year.

Retailers generally make most of their sales during the Christmas crunch, and anything they don’t sell gets put on discount the day and week after, to bring their year-end sales figures up.

Boxing Day sales may be great deals, but there is one problem – people.
I don’t know what it is about the word “sale” but it seems to attract society’s scum buckets. Whenever I go someplace plastered with “sale” signs, the people shopping are the rudest, meanest, cruellest sadistic slime balls to walk the earth.

Seriously, these people will push their own mother in front of them as a shield, so they can plow through the crowd. They will use their poor babies in strollers as a weapon, charging down aisles full of shoppers, so that they can get to the front. They will do whatever it takes, at all costs, to get the deal.

I love a good deal like anyone else – saving money isn’t a bad thing. But I refuse to go to the malls and stores on Boxing Day. It is just too frustrating and alienating.

All those nasty horrible people, pushing and shoving just to save a couple of dollars here and there. There have been instances where people have been trampled, fist fights have broken out, even riots. And for what? A savings of $10 off on a Tickle Me Elmo?

It wasn’t always this bad, society has degraded over the years. There have always been Boxing Day sales, but the people back several years ago were a lot more, well, politely Canadian.

Back about 10 or maybe even 15 or twenty-years-ago, I remember going through the malls on Boxing Day. Oh they were still crowded places, but there wasn’t any shoving, pushing, and there certainly weren’t any fights – not even an argument back then. If someone accidentally stepped on your toes back then, they did the typical Canadian thing and apologized. Actually, even the person who’s toes got squashed said they were sorry – that’s how polite we Canadians used to be.

Thanks to a severe lapse in immigration laws, our Canadian ways have succumbed to those who just don’t share those good, honest and friendly values.
I can’t blame someone from some other part of the world, where pushing, shoving and even getting into a fight are normal ways to navigate public spaces – in their country. But I do disagree with that behaviour here in my country.

When you go to a friend’s place, you don’t rearrange the furniture to suit your personal styles and tastes. The same goes for when you decide to move to another country, another culture and another way of life.

Problem with being Canadian, for far too long we wrongly believed to be Canadian meant to have no real identifying culture and way of being ourselves.
What it really means to be Canadian, is to be polite, friendly and good natured to those around us, even if we don’t know them.

But because we failed to recognize this as uniquely Canadian, and in large part due to weak immigration laws, we have lost a lot of that peaceful identity, to far more hostile and aggressive cultures.

And an even bigger emerging problem, as many people from many different cultures continue to come here to live and they continue to keep their own way of life, we are becoming a more violent and fragmented society.

There’s an Emergency Medical Services (EMS) ambulance attendant that lives a few doors down from me. He tells me all the time about how he goes to car accident scenes, where, despite the seriousness of the injuries, some people refuse to get into the same ambulance as others, just because they aren’t from the same culture.

On more than several occasions, he’s says these individuals have said they’d rather die, than go into a vehicle with “that” next to them. They all request another ambulance, but the policy is to use whatever resources are available and nearest to the scene, so he has to play international diplomat, and talk these people into getting into the ambulance.

We see this in many other instances too. Our cities have always had pockets of communities, composed of cultural groups. There is Little Italy, China Town, the Greek part of town – all served a great purpose, by allowing new comers to this country to find others that shared the same experiences of coming here from their country.

People used to settle in these cultural pockets, and as they became more accustom to life here, and adopted to Canadian culture, they moved out and shared their culture with the rest of Canada, adding to the great fabric of this country.

Not anymore, now people come to these pockets, and stay there. Often refusing to interact with anyone not linked in any way to their own culture. We have become a country of many countries, with many warring nations, instead of what was once a peaceful co-existence.

Our cultural diversity has always made Canada a great place to live. But part of that cultural diversity – the part that is uniquely Canadian – is the ability to get along peacefully with all other cultures.

Sadly, we have long lost that which is – or now was – Canadian.

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