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In My Opinion
Welcome Back to Texas, Annie!
Wednesday, May 8, 2013 • Posted May 8, 2013

The Canadian invasion begins once more this week!

Terri Reardon's mom, Annie Chappell, arrives back in Texas on Wednesday for an extended visit. Though this has become an annual event (or even semiannual), it's always fun to catch up with her and spend time making new memories.

Thanks to Annie, I know that Canadian cigarette packages are not subtle in reminding smokers that they are using a dangerous product. The packs have photos of diseased lungs, surgically removed jaws and ailing patients on oxygen support. It makes our text warnings of health implications from smoking almost appear timid and shy.

Annie has laughed with us about some of the wild misperceptions most Americans have about Canadians. Some of her favorites:

- Not all Canadians hunt moose, beaver and polar bears. Like the U.S., the majority of the population live in large urban centers.

- Canada is not the 51st state of the United States. Nor do they really want to be. They are British subjects with their own parliament and elected officials.

- Canadians don't all speak French. There is one province that contains a large French speaking population, everyone else sounds like they might have spent time in Minnesota.

- Traveling to and from Canada is not the same as heading to Brady and back. Citizens of both the U.S. and Canada need a passport to cross the border, they can only cross at legal points of entry, and security is usually very similar to those entry points at airports and Mexican border crossings.

In Mason County, it's easy for us to rely on the images we get from television and movies when we formulate ideas about what people from other areas are like. And, it's not just limited to how we perceive folks from other countries. We might be tempted to think that everyone in Florida is a tanned drug dealer, everyone from California is a movie star, everyone from New York lives in a high rise, and everyone from Louisiana cooks great Cajun food.

We're not limited to international and state mischaracterizations, we do it within our own state boundaries. Everyone from Houston is a bad driver, everyone from Dallas loves going shopping at the mall, everyone from east Texas is a redneck, everyone from Midland works in the oil industry, and everyone from Fredericksburg is German.

We make snap judgements about people based upon many things. We decide that they will all feel a certain way because of many things, most of which have no real bearing on why they think or act the way they do. They are male or female. They come from the north or the south. They live on the east coast or the west coast. They are wealthy or they're poor.

Making snap judgements about people based upon preconceived notions limits us. If we've already made up our minds how someone is going to behave, we keeping waiting for them to prove us right rather than learning about them through experience. Like all self fulfilling prophecies, if we don't see someone behaving exactly as we expect them to, we tell ourselves that it's only a matter of time until they show their true colors.

We all see people making such superficial judgements every day. We think you're going to be emotional because you're female. We think you're going to be frugal because you're Scottish. We think you're going to be liberal because you're from Boston. We jump to conclusions, and stop allowing ourselves the pleasure of really getting to know the individuals.

I'm really not worried about such problems when Annie arrives. As a former police officer, I know she can shoot a gun and drive in a high speed pursuit. I know that she's lived in rural areas and cities, so she's perfectly comfortable in San Antonio or out at the ranch. And, since she makes this trip a couple of times a year, I know that she's just wanting to get away for a while and visit her Texas relatives and friends.

Welcome back Canada Mimi!

It’s all just my opinion.

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