Good news for Canadians, Canada was voted as the place with the best reputation worldwide for the third year in a row! It is important to note that only G8 countries voted. As a Canadian (writing this on Canada Day while in Belgium) I feel very conflicted about this news.
There’s obvious happiness that this is the public perception but it worries me because our treasured health care is suffering, we’re still not very progressive in our stance towards the First Nation population and please don’t get me started on the Kyoto Accord or linguistic issues.
My greatest fear is that these results are going to be used as a type of shield by those perpetuating these trends as a way to avoid dealing with the issues. I’m not going to harp(er) on it as today is supposed to be a day of celebration. Instead I will raise a glass (ou deux) in honour of the fact that people don’t really know us well enough to despise us (and yes, despite beliefs to the contrary, Canadians do share some cultural commonalities, deprecation being one of them).
Image courtesy of http://vinteeage.com/
Forget that horsesh*t about traveling to gain new experiences and expand your horizons. Most of us travel because we secretly believe that our country of origin is vastly superior to whatever far flung destination we are gracing with our presence and we want everyone else to know it too.
The Linguistic Divide
Contrary to popular belief, locals do not appreciate it when visitors take time to learn a few snippets of their language. The fact that they can mock you without your understanding is what makes you such a welcome guest. Besides, language is only a barrier for those who don’t speak loud enough. If at first you don’t succeed, try yelling and possibly even getting angry to demonstrate your impatience.
Act the Part
Travel only changes the outlook of those who are unsure of their convictions. As a tourist, you are bringing money into the economy and this pretty much enables you to act however you please. Demand forks and ask for ketchup with everything. Throw money (literally) at those less fortunate, slow moving locals in order to get what you want.
Haggling as Death Match
Let’s face it; the locals only want to rip you off. If they’re not going to clearly communicate their prices then they have just declared a throwdown. So what if it’s only two cents in your currency and it took you 20 minutes to reach that price, you won!
Look around – everything is SO foreign. It’s as if this has all been staged as a chapter in your personal memoir. Life is your art project and you should treat it as such. Block busy walkways as you repeatedly take identical photos in search of the perfect shot. Stick your camera in the faces and homes of locals and click away; asking permission would spoil the shot. Thank you universe!
Be a Cultural Ambassador
Many locals will never get to travel, so treat this as a valuable opportunity to show those less fortunate how to improve. Suggestions include, constantly reminding others that things are much bigger and better in your country, followed by lengthy explanations of why this is so. Sometimes you will need to engage in tough love and actually point out how disgusting and foreign their practices are, particularly in terms of toilets (Surely it’s much more sanitary that human waste is located within your home rather than outdoors and of course it is more hygienic to clean with paper than actual water).
Don’t worry about wasting your hard earned funds on a return ticket. Apply the suggestions above and chances are you will get a free ticket home when your many new friends take up a collection to return you to your beloved home ASAP.
Published under the title Make Yourself Unforgettable in the June 2013 edition of The Voice.
People pay a lot of tax and what purpose does this serve? Sure the roads are paved and rubbish is taken away, but should it really cost so much? Let other, less special, people shoulder that burden. Implement the below suggestions and consider yourself vocationally unfettered for the foreseeable future.
Potential employers spend 20 seconds scanning a CV. Make the experience fun for your reader through a random use of fonts, inconsistent formatting and run on sentences (everyone likes a story teller). Contrary to popular belief, the spell check function on Word has an exquisite understanding of grammatical and linguistic structures and freeze* you to focus on more important matters, like what your next snack will be.
Look the Part
We are living in uncertain economic times. You want your future employer to associate you with prosperity. Reference the 1980s with big hair and shoulder pads (for both genders), a briefcase, headset and if you are lucky enough to score one, a brick like phone that truly communicates who’s the boss. Begin salary discussions as you are taking your seat in order to highlight your negotiation skills.
Simultaneously name dropping, drinking kombucha, texting, taking a call on your other phone, reading a philosophy book and quoting random passages (preferably while the book is upside down) reveals that you are great at multi-tasking and in no way should be construed that you are off your meds.
Establish that you are a conceptualist who does not have time for insignificant details by focusing on very basic but specific questions during your interview. ‘Do you have a website?’, ‘What time is lunch?’ and ‘What are the duties for the position?’ (particularly effective if you have been provided with a comprehensive job spec) are highly recommended.
The Wrap Up
This technique is especially powerful if you have little practical experience and are applying for an entry level job – perhaps not so useful if you’re a skilled surgeon. (If you are a surgeon, why are you even reading this – go save some lives!) Turn the power dynamic on its head and conclude the interview by stating: ‘Thank you for your time. I’ve had a lot of interest. I will consider our conversation and if you don’t hear from me, I’ve accepted a position elsewhere.’
Implement the above steps and you will have a considerable amount of free time to wash labels off of plastic bottles and call it art, improve your x-box score, and perfect your space cake recipe.
* Yes, I am indeed aware that the word is frees. My friend spell check? Not so much.
Published under the title Stay Free in the April 2013 edition of The Voice.
Society is educated about environmental issues now more than ever before. Yet all we keep hearing is that the world is ending and we’re all going to die. Of course we will all die; welcome to Human Existence 101, thanks for stopping by. But while you’re here, why not try to shape the world in your own image? In five easy steps, you can become the eco-warrior that no one ever wanted you to be.
Contrary to popular belief, we do not live in an age of relativism. Moderation is for the undecided. There is only one correct view of reality and that is yours. A position of tolerance will not get your message across, as people truly appreciate a hard sell. Need further convincing? Look at how successful religious zealots, militia militants and cult leaders are. Exactly.
Westerners waste a lot of food. Whether this is due to oversized portions, entitlement issues or capitalist generated insatiability is irrelevant. The only way to stop this behaviour is through intervention. Try sitting with a stranger who has a large portion of food. Look warily at the food and ask, “Are you going to eat ALL of that?” Stare until you get an answer, or the person leaves. You may find yourself with an incredibly tolerant new friend or get a free meal, and isn’t that a win either way?
Productivity = excess. The problem is not that we’re doing too little; it’s that we’re doing too much. Productivity is what got us into this mess, so reverse the trend by doing as little as possible. If this leaves you feeling useless or dissatisfied, always remember – there’s medication for that.
Nature is Beauty
Reframe your thinking and learn to see beauty where others do not. If your dog defecates on the sidewalk, do not clean it up. This is an unnecessary use of carcinogenic plastic (and your valuable time and effort) to dispose of a perfectly natural and biodegradable process. If a bystander gives you grief, stare at them compassionately while sadly shaking your head.
Embrace Life’s Contradictions
People who point out inconsistencies are being petty just for the sake of hearing their own voice. Complain about smokers as you’re driving your car or pulling on a spliff. Lecture people on vegetarianism while chewing gum and wearing leather shoes. Ignore inconsistencies, at least in your own behaviour. You know your own heart is pure, but what about the rest of humanity?
Life as an eco warrior isn’t always easy but it has its rewards, such as basking in the glow of self satisfaction and righteous indignation while doing very little to actually resolve the issue. Maximum results for minimum effort. Isn’t that what saving the planet is really about?
Slightly edited version published in the March 2013 edition of The Voice.
This is my dark twisted offering, in honour of V-Day!
Dating can be difficult. Not only do you have to shower regularly and pretend to be polite, you’re expected to hide those charming idiosyncrasies that form your character. Don’t like the crushing boredom of meeting expectations and the pressure to impress? Try the suggestions below and soon you can behave however you want 24/7, as you’ll be completely alone. You’re welcome.
The Eyes Have It
Casual eye contact is for the unimaginative. Stand out from the crowd by making no eye contact at all. Looking at the floor or rapidly darting your eyes around the room conveys that you are a very deep thinker with a lot on your mind. An unwavering stare (try not to blink) accompanied by a serious expression or manic grin does wonders to indicate your intensity. Try alternating these techniques to add a bit of seductive mystery and allow the inner you to shine through.
Sharing is Caring
Fancy a threesome with hermaphrodites coated in cherry syrup? Chlamydia medication finally did its job? Share this information as soon as possible, preferably within five minutes of meeting someone. Provide as much detail as possible in order to build trust and intimacy. If your companion appears uncomfortable, take this as a compliment that such unfaltering honesty is rare and appreciated.
A Sum of Its Parts
Remind people that you are a seriously sexy beast by naming your genitalia and referring to them at every possible opportunity. ex. “The rocket and I are going out for drinks tonight. Want to come along for the ride?”, or “I am taking Miss Sensitive for a scuba this weekend. Do you feel like doing some diving?” For added emphasis, suggestively raise your eyebrows and perform a pelvic thrust as you speak.
Clinging: Not Just for Food Wrap
Never hesitate to let a person know how their absence cuts into your very soul, even if they are only going to the bathroom. Grab their hand, stare deeply into their eyes and state as if your life depended upon it, “I miss you. Every second without you feel s like an hour. Promise you’ll come back?” Extra points if you hold their hand so tightly that they must pry it from your grasp.
The Drunk Dial
This technique should only be used if you know the object of your misguided affections is having a quiet night in. Get extremely drunk and send unintelligible texts. Follow up with an insulting phone call if you do not receive an answer within two minutes. Keep them guessing and demonstrate your tender nature by immediately calling back with a desperate plea for forgiveness and a declaration of undying love.
If your potential companion is still interested after you have implemented the above suggestions, chances are (s)he has even more issues than you do. Consider relocating and changing your name to something incredibly generic, or you might have a lifetime of finding dead bunnies on your doorstep.
Slightly edited version published in the February 2013 edition of The Voice.