Whewww….finally back to blogging. Two weeks of flu, followed by a week and a half of Christmas/New Years/shopping/wrapping/baking/cooking/ visitors/cleaning. Perhaps I shouldn’t be, because they are ADHD-driven, but I am still impressed by those among my favorite bloggers who managed to pump out a post a day or better.
I will have to make an appointment with my Optometrist soon. What I took at first as merely a symptom of the flu continues to linger. I fear I may have blown an artery in the retina of my left eye. I now have an ongoing circular area in my vision, not a blind spot, but the other day when I looked at a snowbank, there was a yellowish circle on it. I have normal-for-me low blood pressure, so maybe there’s another cause, hopefully treatable. Enough about me, why are Canadians and Americans the same, only different?
America was settled largely by middle-class merchants and religious protesters. From the beginning the average was weighted toward individuality. When the good land and good weather eventually ran out, Great Britain settled the northern half of the continent with the excess population of farmers and sheep-herders. These were the order-obeying drones, accompanied by just enough second-and-third son lesser nobility to keep them in line and remit the taxes. The United States revolted and fought its way to independence. A hundred years later, Canada got hers by asking nicely.
Before globalization the two nations came from the same founding countries, but different social influences, both pre-existing and later experienced, have created two neighboring countries with the same language and ethnic heritage, but often interestingly different outlooks on the same situation. America has drones, and Canada has free-thinkers, but the bell curves don’t come down in the same place.
The American population, over the years, has become polarized on just about every issue. There are just Democrats and Republicans, and never the twain shall meet. Even people who voted for the likes of Ralph Nader or H. Ross Perot couldn’t take them seriously. The Canadian Parliament has a multi-party goulash, not quite as bad as the on-going Italian fiasco, including Liberals, Conservatives, New Democrats, a single Green Party rep. and the Bloc Quebecois party, whose publicly declared mission is to secede from Canada (and still we politely let them run, and sit in government) but whose real agenda is to get more money and political power by blackmail.
Two things happened recently which pointed out the divergent results to a common problem. First, Coca-Cola offered a plan by which they would donate money to help save habitat for polar bears. They would imprint special white-on-white cans, showing polar bears on a snow/ice background. For every can sold, they would donate five cents. In the US, it was like the Boston Tea Party all over again. Bitch, bitch, bitch! We don’t like it! Stop the campaign! Give us back our red cans! When they’re white, we can’t find the Coke on the shelf! They look like Diet Coke! They look like generic cola! Even, it doesn’t taste the same! Thousands of letters and emails convinced Coca-Cola US to terminate the campaign. The same day I saw the announcement of the cancellation in the US, I was watching some Canadian TV and saw an ad which stated that the same scheme which had just been halted south of the border, was doing so well in Canada, that Coca-Cola.ca was expanding it by two million cans, probably to get rid of the ones they couldn’t sell in the States.
The other business announcement which had me shaking my head at American management in the Canadian market was one from McDonalds, which said that they intended to take away the coffee-selling crown from Canada’s own Tim Hortons donut and coffee shop chain. Control of Tim’s was bought about ten years ago by Wendy’s, headquartered in Dublin, Ohio, an exurb of Columbus. I never thought that the two were a good fit, but Wendy’s used it as an excuse to start putting up Tim Hortons in Ohio and Michigan. That’s why Edward
Scissorhands Hotspur can get a Tim’s across from The Greene in Dayton. Wendy’s finally realized what I felt all along and sold control back to the Canadian corporation On my last trip to Detroit I looked up Tim Hortons in the phone book and found TWO in the metro Detroit area. Better than the time before when there was zero, but here in Canada, I could pass two Tim’s on the way to the community mailbox. A recent news item in the paper listed a robbery at a Tim’s “on Victoria St.” A quick mental review placed at least three along the ten mile stretch. You have to be a bit more specific. There are probably five to ten Tim Hortons for every McDonalds in Canada. I sit in the middle of a half a million population zone. After years of dithering because they only put up a shop for every two hundred thousand people, the American chain, Krispy Kreme built an outlet locally. Just over a year later Tim Hortons built one, literally across the street. Just another year later, the backup at the Tim’s drive-thru is out to the street, and the Krispy Kreme is gone and a family restaurant takes its place.
There is no serious competition for Tim’s from Second Cup or Country Style, both coffee/donut shops like Tim’s. If you like tree-hugger pastries, there are a few Williams coffee pubs, and enough Canucks are rich/preppy enough to keep the occasional Starbucks going. There’s one inside my favorite bookstore, but Canadians WANT their Timmy’s. For the last five years, during the first week of December, McDonalds has been giving away a free small coffee to anyone who come in and asks. If you want a medium or large, the charge is, free, plus the difference for the size. The lines at Tim’s haven’t gotten any shorter except when they open a new shop two blocks down the street. I don’t think McDonalds stands a chance on this, but what do I know? I’m not an American market researcher.