Saturday, July 28, 2012

Culture Shock

Today I got drafted to help put up trusses on a new building my uncle is putting up.  I slapped on a bunch of sunscreen and sat on a rickety scaffold hammering in nails and hauling heavy objects around for most of the day; it wasn't exactly stimulating work but I do enjoy doing manual labour now and again.  What really got me was the difference between the people I hang out with when I am at my parent's house like I am now vs. my usual crew in Toronto.

The people here think it is entirely normal to strip to the waist, grab their toolbelt and tools and spend a day slamming up buildings of some type or other.  That is just what you do!  My crew down south would largely speaking be completely hopeless at this sort of work and would wonder why you wouldn't just hire a professional.  On the other hand if I were to start a sentence with "Okay, so I was thinking about the properties of infinite subsets of the natural numbers..." the folks up here would scratch their heads and the southern folks would wonder when I was going to get to the point.  Not to say that there is a difference in raw talent either way necessarily but there is definitely a difference in practice and experience!

I bridge the gap between the two in ways that feel a little bit strange.  After all, I know what a truss *is*, but I tear apart my soft city-boy hands nailing one into place.  I have this baseline of knowledge about construction and nature that is good enough to fool geeks but I am outed as quite clueless around people who really do spend their time in the great outdoors.  My family worked hard to teach me all kinds of valuable skills like how to shingle a roof, how to gut a fish, and how to pour cement but they never really sunk in; you need more practice than I will likely ever get to become really proficient.

The other thing that has been blowing my mind is television.  There are reality shows about picking a wedding dress!  People seriously watch this stuff?!?  Because I have no TV myself I don't ever see ads and I find them fascinating; I try to figure out exactly what marketers were trying to do by what they put in the ad.  The Olympics have enough bad commentary like

"Oh, he has been working so hard and he really wants a medal."
"I asked him if he is going for a world record."
"She is definitely going to need to work hard to win this."

that I have actually taken to watching the commercials and going to pee during the competitions.  That doesn't say much for the entertainment value of the Olympics when I would rather watch the ads than the content.

Soon I will be back in the big city and the lure of the infinite content of the internet will drag me in.  TV will once again be relegated to a thing that other people do until I come back to the great white north.


  1. Watching an interview with an American beach volleyball team:

    "Coming into this, a lot of people have been saying that you are the best team in the world, what do you have to do to prove them right?"

    "Uh... Win, I guess."

  2. Not for the same reason as you, but my kids also prefer olympic commercials to events. But they see commercials so rarely they see it as a showcase of potential things to purchase.