Random Canadian Acts of Kindness?

Yesterday started badly for Ian Welsh in Toronto. His computer crashed—no response from the power button. After the taxi dropped him at the computer repair store—he discovered he’d left his backback in the cab.

Then—it all ended well. The question is—why?

Says Ian:

Turns out it was just the power supply. I thought it wasn’t, because enough power was getting through to keep the power light on the motherboard on, but it turns out it was damaged enough that there wasn’t enough power to boot.

Since the techie did more than he had to and wouldn’t let me pay him "under warranty" he said, and seemed offended when I offered, I gave his business (family owned) a plug at the Agonist.

And the cabbie whose cab I left my backpack in, returned it to the store he dropped me off at.

A banner day for "people can be really decent sometimes" and a nice anti-cynicism dose.

A banner day indeed. Possible explanations:

1. People in Toronto are just nicer than the rest of us

2. Ian’s a decent fellow, and you get back what you put out

3. The weather was great yesterday, which makes people act well

4. Ian was lucky; sometimes you get lucky, sometimes you don’t

5. What’s the big deal? People are generally nice—this is the norm.

I think those are pretty much the big generic explanations, unless you’ve got some I missed.

So—what’s your take on it? Did Ian have a good day? And if so, why?

0 replies
  1. Shaula Evans
    Shaula Evans says:

    Charlie, you’ll have a hard time convincing people in the rest of Canada that people in Toronto could be "nicer than the rest of us."  (There’s petty Canadian regionalisms for you!)

    I would heavily weigh number 2:  partly because I know Ian is a really decent guy (I know him IRL), who is very good to people around him; and because my experience is that being good to people may not guarantee a great outcome, but it certainly increases your chances that people will choose to be good to you.

    I’ll add one more explanation to your list (maybe two, depending on how you count):  Ian was dealing with a small, locally-owned business (vs a big box store), where he had an ongoing relationship. 

    I think Ian had a good day, but, I think Ian makes deliberate choices that increase his chances of having a good day, too.

  2. Philip J. McGee
    Philip J. McGee says:

    Ian had a great day because he eliminated the fear from from his interactions with the techie and the cab driver.  They found him to be unthreatening and generally nice and were, therefore, inclined to help him.  Alas, if we could just universalize these feelings and eliminate this type of irrational fear the world just might have a chance.

  3. Jeff Cullen
    Jeff Cullen says:

    Good day? Bad day? Lucky day? Charlie, I think you had a slow day….


    Okay, okay, that ws below the line. And yes, I’m having a bad day!

  4. Pierre Cerulus
    Pierre Cerulus says:

    Ian had a great day and got pretty good outcome.  I would support Shaula and think that point 2 is the key one.  A challenge, that I am facing a lot, is how do I react when things start the other way….the computer job guy tells you, a classical one in Netherlands, it is not possbile for me to help you!  Off for a tough conversation.  What do I do to hit the pause button and inquire in the other point of view…rather than react!  Believe it or not…it works most of the time, even in NL.  Try the follwing question?  What is making it not possible for you?  What obstacles do we need to remove, so that you can help me on this one?

    One more point,  when somebody walks out of his or her way to serve you and create a great experience for you, I make it very explicit by giving positive feedback to the person and to his/her boss.  I did it recently in a taylor shop!  These people exist and I wil do my best to make their behaviours contagious….to the others

  5. Charlie (Green)
    Charlie (Green) says:

    Ha ha, Jeff you’re partly right; I had nothing major  planned  and this little epiphany from Ian popped up.  But it’s turning out interesting, I think.

    Shaula, Phil and Pierre (welcome Pierre!) are all saying variations on "we influence others create our own reality by how we react to others."   And I hear Pierre infecting the tailor shop with it; it works! 

  6. Ian Welsh
    Ian Welsh says:

    One thing that might be worth mentioning.  The cab ride was a 4 blocker (I just didn’t feel like carrying the computer that far in summer weather).  $5 charge.  Gave him a $3 tip.  So that may have inclined him well towards me, as well.

  7. CA
    CA says:

    As a fellow Canadian, I would say 5. Not being a native Canadian, I was initially taken aback by the politeness I found here.

    1. When I first arrived here, we happened  to stand at a cross walk looking at a map, deciding which way to walk. My wife nudged me and when I looked up, I saw the vehicles on both sides had stopped. We had to cross the road.

    2. My friend, on arriving from the airport, left his wallet in the taxi. 30 minutes later the cab driver was at our door and handed it back. The wallet contained: $10,000 in a combination of cash, travellers cheques, credit cards – not to mention his university admit papers, passport. My friend did not even realize his wallet was missing.

    I am not sure elsewhere, but you do that in any city in India and you can kiss your wallet goodbye.

    In the last four years that I have been here, I have found people here are generally polite and will not fleece you. You will find the odd one who goes against this general rule, though. But more often than not, you will treated with kindness where-ever you go in this country.


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