“What?! You have to be joking! If any one of these happened here, there would be a lot of suing and TV shows to follow!’
This was my mother’s reaction earlier today to my one hour ranting about things that carry only the vital aspects of life to somewhere between difficult and almost impossible here in Montreal, Canada.
I love Montreal, and I can see why it is supposed to be civilized. I am not getting harassed at all, there is a greater equality between man and woman, I can express freely that I am an atheist without getting reprimanded for it, I can bike almost wherever I want and most drivers are respectful and patient, when anything goes wrong, I no longer wait for a fight to break up but smile only to be responded by an understanding gesture and a warm approach by people I have never seen before.
Yes, these are reasons why do not want to leave this city.
However, when it comes to vital aspects about life, such as medical situations, banking, taxes or even intercity transportation, I am more homesick than ever!
Here are my experiences in ascending order of importance:
Phone: When I got my first mobile phone line here, with Chat-r to be precise, I waited for 1 hour!!! STANDING! Another woman with her kid, waited at least 1,5 hours, if not more. In Turkey, it takes 15 minutes, max.
Internet: My husband applied for an internet connection with a little known internet provider. They did their end fairly quickly, but because all connections are dependent on a few huge companies, he had to wait for BELL to pass by and get him a line for the internet to function through, in the simplest terms. Around the same time, a friend of mine who had been assigned to a tiny village in the south east of Turkey, a part of the country considered to be not quite developed, applied for her internet connection with of course a Turkish provider.
2 weeks later, she had already been updating her facebook status and doing skype calls, while I could reach my husband only when he went to St Hubert, the fried chicken shop, and managed to connect to gtalk. It took Bell about 4 weeks to do the job with one appointment rescheduling.
One more tiny addition, if you opt for something ultra technological, like internet through a cable connection (wow!) it might take you a few months, as was the case with my colleagues.
Transportation, namely Greyhound:
So the people who work with Greyhound have learned one sentence by heart: First come, first served.
I have had to use Greyhound on two trips, on my way to Ottawa and New York.
Coming back from Ottawa, naturally like a lot of people who wish to be seated as they please together with their company, we made it there about 30 minutes earlier, which is a needless waste of time, but who am I to talk, I come from a third world country, right?
Just as we left the garage, the driver noticed that a window was open and would not close. The first thing he did was to blame the passenger sitting there, the exact reason why I had chosen not to sit there. Thus, we went back into the garage and the bus was changed.
Yet, this time, rather than first come first served, it was front seats first served, because all the people sitting in the first rows were the first to get off and thus the first to get on the new bus and sit wherever they pleased, leaving a woman with her baby and toddler to be seated on seats quite far off from each other.
Of course she got mad. She had arrived there 1,5 hours earlier, just so that she would not have to encounter such a splendid challenge to stimulate the ride and wanted to get off the bus. Some people had to give their seats and problem was solved (!).
Greyhound experience number two unraveled thusly: On our way to New York, the problem started before we got on the bus, even before I got the feeling we were being carried to a high security prison with a plastic indoor door to prevent us from approaching the door to reach for our freedom unless it was unlocked from the outside by the guard/driver who kept calling us folks, but rather treated us like a flock.
We had arrived 1 hour before the departure and got to waiting. While waiting, unless you are one of the first 5 people to be in line, if you get too tired, you can always sit on the floor, please, by all means. Make yourself at home. As we got closer to the gate to get on the bus, I realized there were two busses, and was relieved that we would get proper seats no matter what, since we had been there much before many others. I got on the first bus with my husband, but there were no seats left, except for two aisle seats, one next to a very large scary man, and two seats that would allow us to be together for the next 8 hours, but they were all the way in the front and contained large suitcases. I figured they had been reserved for the driver.
So since we had arrived there much earlier than a lot of people getting on the second bus, I asked to be seated in the second one. But there was this harsh answer that you get from people “in control”, with an undertone reminding how worthless I am. So, not to show how uncivilized I was, I kept quiet and headed towards the separate seats. You know, with one that had the pretty present of a large scary guy, with compliments from greyhound.
However, when a few minutes later, a pretty blond couple wanted to sit together, and the suitcases were removed for their sake, I got mad, as did my husband. The response from the Greyhound guy was: First come first served.
Wow, how could I not think of that?! What a logical and sensible answer and what a problem solving attitude! Our problem persisted until we made it to New York, that is, no special treatment for us. Next time, either I will not be using Greyhound, or there will be a MAJOR scene to follow!
In Turkey, the underdeveloped country, you know where many people still think have camels on the roads, while buying our tickets online, we can see the seats we are buying on the screen, check the type of bus we will be riding in. Thus, even if we arrive 5 minutes before the bus takes off, we know our seat will be safe! And there are ALWAYS free snacks and drinks! Thus, the driver is always kept awake by the in-ride attendant. Oh, did I forget to add? The driver snoozed a few times with his foot on the gas pedal, but we survived.
There will be more…