This trip to Canada was my first ever. Of course, I had my theories about what it would be like. Lots of people who ended their sentences with the word "eh" (Correct!). Brown gravy on all french fries (I saw not a drop the entire time). French written on everything (Yes indeed).
What I also expected was to feel a bit like I had gone through the looking glass. Where everything was almost exactly the same is in the US...but not quite.
That experience was way more jarring than I had thought it would be. It was perhaps the most culturaly disorienting trip I've ever taken, precisely because I kept on being blindsided by the differences.
Just when I thought I knew what I was dealing with, the Canadians shook my world.
For instance, gambling. Specifically gambling in casinos.
I think we're all familiar with Casinos, yes? Those temples to the id, where women in skimpy clothing ply you with drinks whilst you throw away money trying to make even bigger money. Places where anything can happen. And what goes on there stays in there. Places where dreams are made and lives are ruined.
We played a couple of casinos in Canada. And everything I thought I knew about them was turned all upside down.
I assumed the casinos were run by a Native Canadian tribe. Wrong!
They are run by the government.
Let me say that again.
In Canada, some casinos are government run.
Um, hello, but in the USA, we have a, um, complicated relationship with gambling. We want gambling and casinos and all the sin they provide, but we need them at a bit of a remove. So we make sure they're on Native land that's not officially U.S. soil. Or on "riverboats." Or far away in the the middle of the deserts of Nevada.
It makes us feel more comfortable, okay?
But in Canada, the government runs casinos. And consequently, the casinos have a different ethos about them.
First off, there's no drinking on the gaming floor. Which doesn't really compute with me. How are you supposed to recklessly throw away money without the aid of liquid courage?
But, you see, in government run Canadian Casinos when the customer are also the constituents they don't actually want you to get wasted and blow your rent money on the slots. They don't want to give you false hope that you'll end up a winner. Instead, they want you to understand that gambling can be a fun leisure activity, but that you will lose money over time. And the more you spend, the more you'll lose.
People, they have pamphlets telling you this! In one casino there was an entire room dedicated to informing people that, sorry, the house is going to take your money. In fact, there was a sheet (that I picked up but lost somewhere between Regina and Moose Jaw) that laid out exactly how much money you would lose per hour. For every game in the casino. Dude.
Hmmm. A casino that cares about the lives of it's patrons.
I've literally never heard of such a thing.
But it's like, a whole reality in Canada.
It's backwards and bizarro, yet kind of cool.