Today, on a whim, I took a bus. A ponderous vehicle that yawned to a stop and squatted to admit passengers. The driver was perched on a seat that invited interaction with every traveller. No impatience, but unhurried consideration of every need. Was I new to town an unfamiliar with the routes? He would radio ahead and ask the next driver to wait for me at the transfer point. A man with a cane got off, saying “thank you sir” as he exited. “Thank you too, sir” was the calm reply.
And so it went on, like a caricature of 1950s small-town America. The driver might have walked me to my connecting bus if several passengers hadn’t offered to do the same. Only in Canada, I thought, remembering all those Bratislava trams that would pull away, in the rain, even though the invisible driver clearly saw you running for the door. All those bus drivers who resented being addressed, never mind asked for travel advice.
But that exaggerated obligingness is only one aspect of life in Canada. Like a bus ride, it’s a throwback to a kinder society you occasionally glimpse on your way somewhere more disquieting.