We demand that the government of canada discourage the canadian tradition of placing senior citizens on northern ice flows and leaving them to perish

So the other night at work I experienced a solid flow of american customers, who all pay only with american currency. I always politely explain that unfortunately I can only give canadian currency back and they either look at me like a deer in headlights, put up a fight right away, or pretend they completely understand only to find out that AFTER I close the bill and return their change they really have no idea at all and proceed to ask "well, this is canadian money. I need american change, I have no use for this." Here are some common interaction between myself (the sweet, caring employee that i am) and our friendly neighbouring country customer.

(please note that anything that I have placed in brackets are things I did not actually say out loud, but things I like to keep to myself until I get to write about it. Placing irrelevant information and things i choose to not say outloud has become a long time habit for me and it is the only way i can say evil things without feeling bad or having any repercussions about them because I often forget that people who read what I write do not dismiss these comments like I do.)

- hello and what can I get for you today?
- small soda please.
-And what kind of POP would you like today?
- Diet cola.
- Diet pepsi ok?
- I guess.
- O.K. that will be 2.00 please
- Is that in american funds?
- No, I'm sorry it is in canadian funds. (We are in Canada and even though for some strange reason we do have the american conversion, you also didn't tell me you were american, I don't read minds.) But I can tell you what it comes to in U.S. Funds, it is $1.80 *smiles*.
- $1.80?!? That is only 20 cents different. Isn't your dollar worth less then ours?
- Yes it is (hence it being 1.80 instead of 2.00) but the currency exchange rate just went down from 13% to 10% the other day. (and by other day I mean over a month but I don't want to make you feel bad, yet.)
- Oh wow. Ok well here is a 20$ bill.
- Thank you. Just so you know I can only give you canadian change, is that alright?
- Oh yes.
- Here you are, $18.00 is your change.
- $18.00...what am I going to do with all this canadian money? I am only in town for 3 hours.
- Oh, I am sorry. I thought you said that was alright.
- Well here, I'll just pay with my canadian change instead. what is it, 2.00?
- I am sorry, unfortunately I cannot do a refund on a transaction paid for in american currency, our tills cannot convert the exchange back so it will put me out (you had canadian change all along and decided to pay with your american $20.00 bill...what??).
- Listen. I am sick and I just want my pepsi.
- Can I help whoever is next in line? (you are sick and you are drinking pepsi??...umm i think what you need honey is some flat ginger ale.)
(customer huffs off and proceeds to sit on the bench passing demon eyes at me and faking a really bad hot flash of some sort..family comes to the rescue..they all pass demon eyes at me.)

- Hello and what can I get for you today.
- We will have (copy and paste same soda. vs pop, cola vs pepsi shenanigan here.)
- That will be (insert combination of bills and change.)
- (copy and paste the "Is that in american funds?" exchange of words here.)
- Alright well we have some canadian money here lets see what we have. Can you just pick it out for me dear, I don't know which is which?
- Certainly sir. We just need this bill and this change. (see this 5 Dollar bill? it says 5 dollars. see these quarters? they are named, look, feel and weigh the same as yours. See this dime? they are named, look, feel and weigh the same as yours.. etc etc.. you get the idea.)
- Kind exchange of words, customer walks away happy and still has no idea that our money works just like theirs and that we are not in fact a foreign country at all and that Szechwan, Saskatchewan does not exist, is not being raided by the Russians, and is not in a foreign country. (if this comment does not make sense, it will as soon as you watch Talking to Americans with Rick Mercer part I, which I have posted for your convienience at the end of this post.)

After some research such as where Americans can actually use their own currency in other countries and get away with it and I was unpleasantly surprised to find that MANY foreign countries do accept it as a form of currency, and some even use it as their primary form of currency!! So I guess it is partly not their fault, they are used to it. But don't you find that a bit self-righteous? Maybe it is actually our fault as a country and as business patrons that we accept it and should no longer. God knows in the summer here we would probably lose 70 percent of our sales if we were to do such a thing. I am pretty sure that if I went down to the States and try to use my Canadian money there (and I mean just trying to, I don't mean carrying on about it or putting on any kind of show to the extreme that we experience this issue up here.) I would seriously be considered the stupidest person in the country at that point..well at least the stupidest customer in the store, let alone possibly being considered a terrorist, anti-american among a plethora of other stereotypes and criticisms.

My question is what can we do about this as a nation?? Should we put our foot down and let the canadian dollar flourish in our own country? Or will we become another victim of dollarization like Ecuador, El Salvador and Panama who all have adopted this currency independently dating back as late as 1904? (Dollarization occurs when the inhabitants of a country use foreign currency in parallel to or instead of the domestic currency.)

I just got Shaw digital phone which gives me free long distance and 1000 minutes to call certain other countries including the United States not to long ago and I am thinking about doing some field research and calling random businesses in the states to ask them if they accept canadian cash at all. I will already know the answer (it will be no of course.) But I am just curious to set my own record straight and to see what they think of such a question. Is there anyone interested in playing a part in this project? Does anyone have any recommendations? Maybe some suggestions as to what I should ask these lucky random businesses?

I would honestly like to learn more about this subject, and more about United States in general. Please if you are american, do not take offence to this post, but rather be pro-active and maybe fill me in on why your first questions when it comes time to purchase something is "Is that in American funds?". Or why when in Canada we only have 13 provinces (10 provinces and 3 territories to be exact) and the United States consists of 50 states, we as Canadians know all of them (or close to it) from Alabama to Wyoming, Americans seem to think that Szechwan, Saskatchewan DOES exist in a foreign country? I will be the first one to admit that these problems are also a direct result of our own "Americanization." We are all to blame for submerging ourselves in american culture, current events, and history and forgetting about our own. Ask a canadian who the prime minister is (well..i guess one could not forget now that it is Stephen Harper) and then ask them who the president of the United States is? I think you may be surprised (or not) that a lot of Canadians will know that the president is George Bush and will hesitate to respond as to who is our current Prime Minister. If you were to ask an American who the Canadian Prime Minister is, what would their response be??..( I am not implying anything here, I actually do want to know, maybe it could be another question for my field research.)

Just so you know I am definitely NOT anti-american or any kind of nationist (no nationist is not a word, it is one that minn and I have come up with that means having dislike towards those from another nation). I am just pro-everything else.

I leave you now with Part I of IV ( i think that is 4...whatever.) of Rick Mercers "Talking to Americans." Enjoy.



Jerry Ison said...

I'm an American and Ill help you on this project. I will call several business in many states and ask if I, an American, can use Canadian currency. I will also inquire whether a Canadian citizen could make purchases with Canadian currency. I'll get back to you in a week or so (that's seven days American; I'm not sure what the Canadian length is).
Jerry Ison
P.S. You mentioned that theaters must charge $5 for a Coke. Is that in American funds?

Lisabelle said...

Hello Mr. Jerry Ison,

Thank you for your kind words and ambition to help me with this project, unfourtunately though I do not recall ever mentioning anything about these situations taking place in a theater? But I am afraid I cannot answer your question regarding costs for the coke.The only reason the food needs to be so outrageously priced, is if it didn't the theaters would simply go out of business.

The box office revenue goes to the studios making the pictures leaving the theatres to sell popcorn and drinks to make a profit. How much could the studios possibly take you might ask? In the first few weeks of a film's theatre release the studios collect 90% of the box office.

On average the movie theatre is making less than one dollar per person.