Since moving to Edmonton over a month ago I’ve noticed one big difference between Edmonton and Vancouver. The people here are friendlier. Everyone I’ve known who has lived in Edmonton has said this to me in the past, and Vancouver is known for being one of the coldest cities in Canada (not temperature-wise that is, but in regards to human connection). I don’t think I realized how different it would be.
For starters, you have conversations with everyone in every store you go to. Even when you attempt to use self-checkouts, the person supervising the registers comes over to chat. Cashiers are always asking how your day is, which does happen in Vancouver too, but here they seem to take more interest and ask follow up questions or make conversation about your purchases. Typically when I’m asked how my day is I ask back, because this is how polite human conversation goes.
But in Vancouver I found people would often reply with “counting down the hours until I go home” or “I just want this day to be over” or “well, I’m here.” Which makes me, the customer, feel awesome about shopping with you and not at all wishing for a self-checkout.
Only once in Edmonton did I face something like this, I was at Dollarama and the cashier asked how my day was, when I asked him about his he said “pretty miserable.” I didn’t respond (because how do you in your one minute interaction), when I left I said I hoped his day got better and that was it. When I told my brother about this, he was shocked I was annoyed at the guy for saying this. I guess it doesn’t happen often enough and I should see it as a cry for help? Maybe I’m too used to responses like that in Vancouver that I assume that those people don’t know how customer service niceties work?
Another example was the other day I went into Shoppers Drug Mart to pick up some throat lozenges because I was starting to feel a tickle in my throat and wanted to beat that into submission before it became a cold. I went to the cashier to buy my Cepacol and we exchanged pleasantries as she rang me through and as I was putting my wallet back in my purse the young cashier (couldn’t have been older than 20) said “I hope you feel better soon.” I had heard her say this to the guy in front of me as well (he was buying a bottle of cough syrup). And she genuinely meant it.
I’m gonna keep going on this… the other day I got on a bus. It wasn’t packed, but I walked to the back of the bus and there were a few seats here and there that were empty but I chose to stand for a bit since my ride was going to be long and I wanted to wait for a window seat to free up. Within the first few seconds of me standing there after the bus started moving, three young guys asked if I wanted their seats. Even though the one next to or across from them was empty. In Vancouver, I’ve maybe been asked three times during my entire time living in the city if I wanted someone’s seat, and the busses/trains are far more packed there. Sure, people do ask the elderly or pregnant (most of the time….), but I was blown away by three offers in a minute.
And finally, I’ve noticed that everyone here smiles and says hello when you walk by them. I walk a lot here, like a lot. Every time I’m walking at least 5 people smile and say hello. Then I do the awkward smile back and say hello. Even if I’m listening to music in my headphones, we exchange these pleasantries.
The City of Edmonton has a campaign for this. I saw this the first time on their Instagram, where they’re encouraging everyone to say hello as a way to improve mental and physical health.
I think it’s awesome! If I’m being honest, I often feel more welcome here than in Vancouver. I think Vancouver helped me be an introvert, which I love because I am one and usually dislike a lot of social interaction, but at the same time I can’t help but wonder if it helped me be too introverted?