America has a penchant for believing itself to be the best.
I don't know when this officially started but it's too late to stop now because the odds that we are suddenly going to be OK with second place are nonexistent.
New Yorkers themselves have a reputations for being some of the loudest most verbal best-believeing-selves out there.
I mean the song doesn't go;
If I can make it here I'll make it, nearly anywhere else because there are some challenging places out there, am I right?
Regardless of whether or not any of this is true in actuality (as much as you can actually claim a region of a country to be the best at anything except maybe... the Olympics, and even then it's not necessarily fair because not everyone in america likes running or... being in shape) it's an opinion that is held by many people in the Big Apple.
Sometimes we aren't the best though. Sometimes things don't work. But it's all woven into our attitude.
Part of this attitude is what we might call a brusk courtesy, that is to say, a fast pace which many can take as rude. This comes in the form of signs that tell you things are broken, closed or otherwise not functioning.
There is perhaps no feeling more frustrating than waiting for a train for what seems like years (20 minutes) and finally seeing one come down the track only to see that it is a construction train hauling trash to... wherever it is going.
The same goes for buses. It's a bit easier to see with buses since they approach slower and there is a big lit sign on the top that says
Out of Service.
It's a common occurrence.
Never mind the fact that as an infrequent bus-rider I find myself wondering,
If that bus is passing us, would it be that hard just to pick us up on the way?
But let's ignore that for now.
The message is plain and simple. This bus is out of service. Take it our leave it.
So I was incredibly warmed and delighted on a recent trip to Vancouver when I saw a bus coming down the street that had just one word on it's lit sign.
My eyes bugged out of my head but quickly returned after seeing the next line of the message flash.
Out of service.
I laughed aloud. They were apologizing for being out of service. Not that they had any reason too. But it was just such a wonderfully canadian thing to do.
Oh jeez, this is a bummer ey?
I absolutely adored it.
It was a similar sentiment to the one I experience on my flight up to Vancouver on a Canadian Airline when the TV of the passenger next to me stopped working. The TV went black, and nothing drives a person on an airplane crazier than in flight entertainment that ain't working.
Of course the people next to me were Canadian so when they called the flight attendant over to express their concern the conversation went like this:
Passenger: Excuse me, my daughter's screen isn't working
Attendant: Oh no, did you try the brightness?
Attendant: oh unfortunately there's not much we can do in the way of trouble shooting. That's a real bummer ey?
Passenger: Oh that's ok we'll just share earbuds.
I swear to you that is exactly how it went.
What was so great was that the flight attendant was just as upset that the TV wasn't working. It wasn't a
Sorry nothing we can do.
With attitude and exasperation. No it was kind of a, oh that' sucks, wouldn't it be great if we could fix it? Yea, we can't though.
It was an attitude that was so infectious that by the end of my 4 day trip, I was starting to talk like a canadian.
Specifically in my conversation with my bus driver.
Has been there a lot of growth in this part of town ey?
The open ended-ness of the speech is kind of wonderful. And I know why. It leaves open the opportunity to connect. It's not just, period, end of sentence. But a way for somebody else to contribute, to be involved, to respond.
The conversation is kind of always ongoing, nothing is ever 100% final, even if that means it's not the best.
And that's a big shift for me coming from New York where every single pizza, cup of coffee and burger in the city is THE BEST MOST WORLD FAMOUS IN THE FAMOUS WORLD.
It actually makes me angry a lot of the time.
Because I have anger issues.
I feel like there should be some kind of regulation. You can't call yourself the best unless some sanctioned body like Zagat or Popular Mechanics deems it so. You shouldn't be able to call yourself the best just because some Jacknut on Yelp really likes you.
Already in love with the people, the mentality and the way of life, not to mention coming into the country with an all out addiction to ice cream in general, I was walking along the water one day after lunch looking for a sweet treat when I saw this absolutely brilliant advertisement.
It's not definitive, it's not aggressive, it's just passionately optimistic.
And ya know what, if somebody called them out on it I wouldn't be surprised to know that they changed the sign to read.
Sorry, turns out we're not the best. Still tasty though!