Sometimes there’s a polar bear problem…
Hello Internet, today is Friday, November 16th, and I am a walking stereotype.
EXHIBIT THE FIRST:
I’m working in an Italian restaurant (run by Macedonians, which I think is funny), and the staff there is about as international as it comes. The family that owns the place makes up more than half of us, and then there’s a cook from Mongolia, a dishwasher from India, the Front of House Manager is a Kiwi*, and the other waitresses are Korean, Russian, Italian (imagine that!) and… me. So yesterday, I noticed that there were some folks sizing up the restaurant, as though wondering whether or not they wanted to come in, so I opened the door to say hi. Despite the fact that this is a part of the job, and that every member of the front of house staff does it, something about the way I hauled open the enormous and heavy sliding door on the side of the building to call out “Hello!” to two people standing ten metres away caused my boss to chuckled and say the word “Canadian”.
*footnote: “Kiwi” is not a bad word here. Not a comparative for the short-form of “Newfoundlander”, apparently
EXHIBIT THE SECOND:
Maybe about a week ago, I was asked about my accent. Okay, so, because I work at a restaurant and the majority of people who see me each day hear me say between 10 and 50 words in total, I get asked about my accent by a lot of people who assume that I’m American. I get asked what part of the States I’m from at least once a day. Sometimes, I suppose on days when I’m feeling particularly Newfoundland-y – it comes in days, what can I say? – people guess Irish or Scots, which I always love. Then, a few days ago, a guy got me down. This is basically how it went:
Me: Hi there, can I start you off with something to drink?
Him: I’ll have a Coke. Can I ask about your accent?
Me: I’m Canadian.
Me: Uh… yeah.
Him: Where? St. John’s?
Me: …Yeah. How’d you know?
Him: You’re a quintessential Newfie.
WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?
EXHIBIT THE THIRD:
All right, this one happened today. I went out to a restaurant with some friends this evening, who are also a pretty international group, but mostly Kiwis and British Isles. We were chatting about what happens when wildlife wanders into the cities (apparently, here, they just shoot the poor creatures) and I found myself saying these words:
“Sometimes, in Canada, there’s a polar bear problem.”
And then, I explained about how when polar bears wander into communities, they are tranquillized and transported by chopper out of the area where people live… but yes. I, the Canadian at the table, brought up polar bears. As a fact of life that sometimes has to be dealt with. As though I had ever experienced it myself.
The awesome thing is that then we started talking about penguins (the opposite of polar bears, obviously), and everyone moved on. As though I hadn’t just announced myself as a giant nationality-based stereotype.
All right. In other news, I’ve been cast in a Fringe Festival production. Because of my ridiculous work schedule (soon to be remedied, I hope!) and the fact that I’m in Antony & Cleopatra, which runs pretty much concurrently, I don’t have a ton of time to spend in rehearsals for a second show… BUT:
This is a neat idea: it’s a musical, episodic soap opera, on stage. The Days of the Bold and the Restless is a 15-episode season, done one episode an evening over the course of Wellington Fringe. My tiny part is in the second-to-last episode (or, 5 days after A&C closes), and there are lots of chances to help out with other things if and when my schedule opens up. Mostly, I’m super-interested to see how it will go… a 15-night commitment is a lot to ask of an audience, but the marketing for the show sounds really interesting and I’m pretty excited about making friends with the gang I met at my audition.