I like Vancouver
. Right now, I live in Vancouver and enjoy what this city has to offer to the fullest. However, there are certain things I haven’t been able to get used to since moving here over two years ago, and I attempt to compile a list of those things (with love and respect). In this list, I am focusing more on elements of the mentality of the city that are usually unnoticed by insiders, but are very clear once compared to equivalents in other Canadian cities. For example, the problem of homeless people in the streets of Vancouver is so largely discussed that I find there is no point in bringing it up again.
If ever you notice my observations are similar to your own or would like to add anything to this list – please feel free to reach out and I will be happy to get your insight! Let’s get it started:
1. It’s not all about the money.
When I first came to Vancouver (from Ottawa) to visit for a couple of weeks, I could clearly sense the difference in how much money talk was going on here. People were talking about sales, deals, their purchases, purchases of others, fighting over a couple of dollars with cashiers at Shoppers Drug Marts. For what it’s worth, I also noted a huge difference in prices – for everything, starting with a can of condensed milk ending with a square foot in downtown. Two and a half years have passed since then making me much more open about discussing money, but not any more money-oriented as a person. Perhaps it’s because money per se has never been a driving force for me that talking about it doesn’t constitute fun in my mind.
2. It’s not all about real estate either.
Vancouver is the type of city where you get asked whether you rent or own on a first date. I get it, real estate is a huge market here nesting huge amounts of money (please see the first point). As I am not yet in a position to buy my own, my venting is more about renting standards around here. I just happen to be surrounded by lovers of high-rise high-tech buildings and feel like a foreigner with my appreciation for vintage and history. I do want to talk about real estate, just not the way Vancouverites normally do.
3. You’re actually not that big.
I am fairly certain Dr. Freud would have had something to say about this city’s size-related concerns.
Everyone knows Toronto and Montreal are bigger than Vancouver. However, for some reason, (my beloved) Ottawa is commonly believed to be smaller than Vancouver. Every time someone would say to me “Vancouver’s bigger than Ottawa”, I’d doubt it quietly until one day when I googled it. Turned out, Vancouver is smaller than Ottawa by both population and area. When I say Ottawa, I mean just Ottawa, not the Ottawa-Gatineau metropolitan area; although I did compare it to the Greater Vancouver Area, just to give it a little head start.
As can be seen, Calgary’s also higher on population than Vancouver.
I am not really a big-city person, so Vancouver scored higher on my personal likability scale after this finding as far as the size of the city is concerned. The thing is that, this city is pretending so hard to be big, that sometimes it just gets annoying. For someone who used to live in Toronto, familiar with the Markham or Thornhill, doesn’t matter – somewhere in Toronto attitude, I find there is way too much fuss on this side of the country regarding which part of the city you live in. Oh, well, if you’re in Burnaby, then you don’t really live in Vancouver. There is an unspoken (although, actually at times, very loudly spoken) demand for a clear distinction between Coquitlams, Surreys, and Langleys. I like precise, but to me, sometimes, it is just unnecessary information, as, for example, for my friends in Toronto, Burnaby will not mean a thing, and they will keep referring to Vancouver as my current location.
4. There are too many crows, which is really a polite way to say there’s too much trash.
Recycling does not work in British Columbia – even in Quebec, they are doing a much better job. Sometimes the streets smell like trash on a regular day – it can even get to the point where all you can think of while walking a good couple of blocks is that the waste problem really needs to be handled in this city. Speaking of the crows, Vancouver is the city where maps of most common spots of crow attacks were first invented. Check out CrowTrax to find out more, it is quite impressive.
5. You are a city of double standards.
It is when I arrived here I started hearing “I don’t like people”. And yet, wherever you go, people tend to talk to you (aka stranger).
It is when I arrived here I started hearing how important are commitment and responsibility. It is also in Vancouver that I witnessed the most occurrences of “change-of-mind” from people who talked a lot about commitment and responsibility.
Finally, it is when I arrived here that I started hearing people complain that they would be promised a meet-up but would never end up meeting that person again. At first, I thought “how weird!”. But then, I discovered how invasively people I didn’t want to see again wanted to get my number and – guess what?!- see me again.
I am still not clear on the underlying foundation of this fifth point, which is why for now I call it “double standards”. Lately, I have been dwelling on whether it is the loneliness or the thirst for stability (or both?) that drag(s) people into the above-mentioned, very common for Vancouver, situations. It’s like there is this entire city that can’t accept that nothing in life is stable in itself (unless we, people, decide to make consistent choices) and that repetitive verbal statements of importance of commitment&responability (yeah, just like that – as a bundle) aren’t the best tool to plant an idea in someone’s brain. Persistent verbal repetitions is what I call “being invasive” as that’s how I feel when someone is trying to “inject” a belief in me, especially a belief I do not necessarily relate to.
I gotta admit that while trying to understand whether double standards are the action or the reaction, I have gotten quite proficient at using it as a defense mechanism against people’s invasiveness since my preferred old classic being-honest technic doesn’t quite work for everyone in this city. For the record, it is those who can handle me being honest who get my commitment&responability, but that’s a whole other story.