How Much (or How Little) It Matters

I tend to do most of my radio listening in the car. One night this week I was listening to CBC Radio Overnight, which is a rebroadcast via satellite of programs from the previous day from other public broadcasters. I don’t remember the program, its origin, or even the topic being discussed, but one intervener made a comment to the effect that, generally, citizens tend to view their own nation as being the best country in the world.

Interesting point, I thought. And I recalled the pride many Canadians felt when, for 7 consecutive years, the U.N.’s Human Development Report ranked Canada first. Yet why don’t I find myself bursting at the seams with love for Canada? I am NOT saying that I believe some other country to be better than this one. Rather, I’m saying that the notion of loving a country, and upholding it as better than all others, just doesn’t make much sense to me.

I was just born here. And I am very grateful that I wasn’t born in a country that’s war-torn, desperately poor, or oppressive towards its citizens. But from that to make the leap to pledging my love for Canada? Sing it, Tina: “What’s love got to do with it?!”

I’m certainly not apathetic about Canada, either. I do care about policies that will affect the citizery of this and other countries. I do get mildly depressed when I “lose my elections” (from the French, “perdre ses elections”, meaning that the candidate or party for whom one votes doesn’t win). I do care about the quirky combination of features that makes Canada unlike any other place on Earth — care enough, in fact, to help in finding ways of preserving those distinctions and denouncing ideas and ideologies I consider repugnant. While I do think some things are better here, I know that not all is as good as it could be. The people of other countries — England, the U.S., France… — could teach us a few valuable lessons in what I like to call savoir vivre. But, given my concern for the respect of others, those people would need to be asked first…

Unless some reactionary political force were to take over, I will probably never relinquish my Canadian citizenship …simply because it’s the devil I know. And who said that hell is hot? This devil is currently blanketed under a thick cover of snow.

Only Herman & Hermina Slated to Move

As the first snowstorm of 2003 rages over the southern Maritime provinces, I have reason to hope that the new superintendants in my building will be on the ball. The last duo we had was a disaster: They were lazy, quite frankly. I always felt like I was grieviously imposing on them whenever I would make a request that fell well within their job description. But the new duo is already buzy making sure that the parking lot and entrances to the building are cleared before the snow freezes up and becomes impossible to shovel.

Today the new super, who just started on Jan. 1, came by for a visit to issue new parking permits and get a sense of what needs to be done in the building. I really like her. When I asked her if she knew there were mice in the building, she laughed and said, “You wouldn’t believe how many people have told me that already!” Somehow that made me feel better: For a while, I feared I was such a domestic disaster that I was the cause for drawing them to my apartment, although I haven’t seen any since July.

(Sidebar: When I thought I had one mouse, I tried to make light of it and called it “Herman.” But when I saw two mice perform a little jig on my stove one night in July 2001, then I called them “Herman & Hermina.” Hence the title of this entry.)

Anyway, she assured me that the garbage bin in the parking lot is the cause of the infestation, and that she and her partner are already working on fixing this problem. “I have two kids, and one’s just a baby,” she explained. “I don’t want to find a mouse sleeping with my baby in his crib.”

Eeewww! Did I ever tell you just how much I hate mice? It doesn’t matter than I’m probably anywhere between three and five hundred times bigger and heavier than the average mouse around here; they still make my skin crawl. And apparently — so the super tells me — the fireman who lives down the hall from me — not exactly the kind of guy who’s a ninny by any stretch of the imagination — feels the same way as I do about mice. But what really had me worried is when I had a workman in last month to paint the apartment. He asked me to describe the mice I spotted, and he ventured that they might not be mice but RATS! Having seen rats on the waterfront, though, I replied that they were way too small to be rats. To which he rhetorically replied, “Can you say ‘baby rats’?”

But the point of this entry is that I’m hopeful that the new supers will go a long way towards bringing back this building to the state it was in just a few years ago. That’s comforting, because I really don’t want to move. Doing so is too much a pain in the ass.