"You know," I said between mouthfuls, "every time I go to the Post office I get a little annoyed at Canada Post."
"About what?" asked Jack, who'd already finished his Souvlaki wrap.
I said "about the three levels of rates. There are rates for Canada, for the United States, and for International mail."
"So what's wrong with that," asked Jack.
I said "It's not logical. If a letter is not for mailing to a Canadian address, it is by definition international. The US is a subset of international. If they had three rates the first called 'Canada', the second 'the United States' and the third 'other International', that would be OK. Now it looks as if the US has some special place between national and international, and that makes no sense."
"True," said Jack, but then Canada Post is merely reflecting reality: Canada does have a special relation with the US that it doesn't have with any other country."
I said "I know that, but it still bugs me. As it should anyone who's ever looked at a Venn diagram."
"Whatever that is." said Jack. "Listen, talking about illogical, have you ever visited a video rental store?"
I said "No, not that I can recall. It was the kids who rented movies. And that was a long time ago. Why?"
"You'd have a heyday there. Illogical gone berserk!"
I said "How so?"
"Well," said Jack, "when you go in you see row after row of American and British movies -- not further identified. Somewhere toward the back there is usually a small section with the title 'Canadian'. Also in a back corner is another small section with the heading 'Foreign'. So whenever I go in to rent a movie I like to tweak the nose of one of Ted Rogers' minions, and I ask where I can find the latest movie made in Quebec. Guess what? I'm told it's in the Foreign section. So I ask why? And the person tells me because the movie is in French. And I point out that French is also an official Canadian language, and since the film is made in Canada, the movie should be filed under 'Canadian'. So then I ask them to explain to me why a French-Canadian film should be filed under Foreign, while by far the bulk of the movies in the store -- virtually all American or British -- are not filed under Foreign. At that point all I get for a reply is something along the lines of "that's the way head office tells us to do it. Ted Rogers should be ashamed of himself."
I said "maybe nobody ever brought it to his attention. He must be a very busy man. Maybe you should write to him, or send a letter to the editor of the Globe and Mail, if you think it would do any good."
"It would probably just be a waste of time," said Jack pensively.
I said "I think you're right. Canadians are not going to get worked up about this kind of thing. They have more important matters to attend to."
"Like what?" asked Jack.
I said "Oh, global warming, the price of gas, who'll be the next Canadian idol, ..."
Jack interrupted "or the number of shopping days left till Christmas."
At that point, once again having failed to solve the world's problems, we tacitly postponed further discussion till our next lunch.
Sjef Frenken is a renaissance man: thinker, writer, translator and composer of much music. A main interest, he has many, is setting to music the poetry, written for children, during the Victorian and Edwardian eras. Nimble of mind, Sjef is a youthful retiree and a great-grandfather. Mostly he's a content man, which facilitates his relentless multi-media creativity.
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