Down East 2013 ©
I’m pretty sure I’ve touched upon this topic a time or two in my previous blogs. But, by all means double check that for me, would you please? The idea that you’d care enough to do that is strangely comforting to me. But, I digress. The topic I’m referring to is that question frequently tossed my way by folks to whom I’ve never been formally introduced. You know who you are.
“Where do you get your material?” This question pops up on a regular basis at the gas station, in the supermarket and occasionally here in cyberspace. My automatic response for the past several years has been the same. “Obviously you’re not paying attention!” So, since you asked, here’s another installment of recent real life stories from the “Even Tim Sample Couldn’t Make This Stuff Up” file.
When I’m in eastern Washington County I like to tune in to the CBC radiobroadcasts from nearby New Brunswick. I like the CBC and I can always get it on the satellite radio in my car. But, for some reason it’s a different experience when I listen to it “real time” via our local Canadian FM radio station. As my wife often points out, Canada “is like a whole other country”.
I like Canada for a lot of reasons. Some of them have more to do with a strange fantasy image I have of Canada than with the actual country itself. The Canada of my imagination is an entirely mythical land, sort of a kinder, gentler, simpler, more grown up version of the U.S. It’s all sort of gauzy and soft focus, far less brash and bellicose than the Homeland, more genteel and sophisticated. You get the idea. I don’t know when this halcyon image of the great white north lodged in my mind. But, it’s there and it seems as though it’s always been there. That is precisely the Canada I was envisioning while I listened to a couple of recent CBC broadcasts.
The first one featured a sizzling hot, late breaking, top-of-the-hour lead story. According to the announcer, the Canadian Supreme Court had just handed down a landmark decision. All ears, I turned up the volume and learned that, as a result of the high court’s new ruling, Canadian drivers would no longer be able to use the “One Beer Excuse” when stopped on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol. The “One Beer Excuse”? Hmmmm. Fortunately the announcer (probably for the benefit of dim-witted foreigners such as I) went on to explain the One Beer Excuse.
From what I can gather this is how it goes, or at least how it went until recently on Canadian highways: Apparently, prior to this ruling, a Canadian citizen could be driving along minding his or her own beeswax, when suddenly, from his hidey hole behind a Molson billboard, Sergeant Preston, or a reasonable facsimile thereof, would pull up behind the unsuspecting motorist (at this point of course, I’m envisioning snow flurries, slush on the interstate, studded horse shoes, and a flashing blue light strapped to the head of the Mounty’s trusty steed). The driver, when questioned as to whether he or she was inebriated, could (and often did ) choose to employ the “One Beer Excuse” which involved simply stating boldly “But, offfisherr, you mush be mishtaken. I only had one beer!” or words to that effect. At which point presumably the officer would apologize politely, tip his “smokey bear” hat and allow the motorist to continue weaving on home.
I know, I know. That can’t be right. I must have heard it wrong, huh? Maybe so, but can you see how the story fits my make-believe Canada to a “T” ? What I do know for sure is that I could not possibly have made that one up. The same goes for another CBC story I heard a few weeks later.
In this case our hard-hitting CBC investigative journalist, hell-bent on exposing some dark nefarious plot in Canadian supermarket chains, was interviewing an obviously distraught Canadian consumer. Again, please remember that this was a real CBC News story presented with all the somber gravity you’d expect from coverage of a massive earthquake or tsunami here in the states.
The consumer in question had been Stunned! Mortified! Shocked! when she’d innocently stumbled upon a display of bananas, featuring a large “Grown Close to Home”! logo, in the produce department of her local supermarket. How could this be! Sure enough, after a little investigating of her own, the lady discovered the shameful tawdry truth. Bananas are not grown “close to home” at all! The Canadian government had clearly been lying to consumers!
The CBC was contacted and followed up with a pull-no-punches interview with the regional manager of the chain. “Mistakes were certainly made,” he admitted nervously. “We are definitely going to have to look into this.” But, the story just wouldn’t die, folks. A follow-up visit to the same market by CBC reporters a few days later revealed the shocking depth of the deception. It seems that while the “Grown Close to Home” signage had indeed been removed from the original display of bananas, that was only a smokescreen. The offending sign had actually been moved to another banana display in a separate section of the market!
The message is clear. You can run, but you can’t hide from the CBC! I have no doubt that they’ll stay on the story, tracking down every lead and shining the blinding searchlight of truth into every corner of the Canadian produce industry until the good citizens of Canada can once again trust that the government-sponsored “Grown Close to Home” label means what it says.
Right. See what I mean? I couldn’t possibly make this stuff up. I’ll see you on the radio.