We had a wonderful winter away, and are now back in Ontario for the balance of spring and summer.
We knew we’d miss our family, and are more than ready to get caught up on hugs.
I also knew that I would miss my favourite candy bar – Coffee Crisp – because like Aero, Caramilk, Crunchie, and Smarties, it is not available in the U.S. Giving up that yummy bubbly coffee cream layer between crunchy biscuits and chocolate coating was hard, but I soon soothed myself with (many) pints of Talenti gelato, which is not available in Canada.
Two of the things I didn’t expect to miss – but did – were Canada Post and the LCBO. It sometimes takes being away to appreciate what we have.
In Ontario, in all but the smallest rural settings, buying stamps or mailing packages is as easy as going to the nearest post office franchise in the local drug store. In South Carolina, we needed to find an actual branch of the US Postal Service…. which was generally a car ride away….even to buy stamps. And there is not a mailbox on every corner to allow mailing letters either! We complain a lot about Canada Post rates and delivery, but our experiences this winter bear out that it is really no more efficient in the US – they just have better PR! The two pound bubble envelope of baby clothes that I mailed from Myrtle Beach to Germany cost $22USD and took 3-1/2 weeks to get there. A similar package from Canada cost $23Cdn and took 2 weeks.
When we’re in the US, Canadians always make a big deal about wine and beer being available 24/7 in grocery stores, and cheap liquor. By comparison, our LCBO at home is open 9 to 9 Monday to Saturday, and noon to 9 on Sundays. Given that I’m rarely desperate for a bottle at 2 am, the shorter hours don’t bother me. I’m mostly a wine drinker and, yes, American wines can be REALLY inexpensive in the States, but my preferred Italian reds and German whites actually cost more down south when we allow for exchange rates. Canada simply has better trade deals for those wines than the U.S. Besides, I’m actually a fan of the profits from alcohol sales going into our provincial tax coffers to help pay for my health care and more.
The other big difference, for me, is the service and “ambience” of our LCBO’s. I can count on the stores being clean and bright, organized so I can easily find what I’m looking for, and staffed with people who are both knowledgeable AND trained not to sell to inebriated or underage customers. (Plus, gotta admit that I love the glossy magazine, the website and the recipes.) I like that the employees get decent wages and benefits. I feel far less secure as a female shopper in the claustrophobic barred-window ABC Discount Liquor stores, often with a chain-smoking cranky looking cashier, that we find everywhere in the US. Yes, Costco down south is a great place to buy cheap booze…. but only if you need it in the gallon size!
Anyway, we’re back, and I’m heading out to the corner LCBO to pick up some Riesling and to Shopper’s Drug Mart to get stamps.