Tuesday, September 8, 2009

New Habits

Hugging an inukshuk at the TO airport
The saying is: old habits die hard. But sometimes so do new ones - even ones that came into being in only two months.

It surprses me that since being back, simple things need to be relearned. It's taking me a while to remember how to use my cellular phone. I had grown accustomed to the different functions on the cellular I was using in Toronto. E.g. If sending a text from my TT cell phone now, the words end up with fullstops between them. That's.because.the.space.bar.on.the.TO.phone.was.#1.and. #1.on.the.TT.phone.is.for.punctuation.

The other day, going to flush the toilet, I automatically reached for the handle on the left side ... whereas on this toilet at home it's on the right. I've never observed this before, but it made me wonder: are toilet handles in Canada on the left and in TT on the right? Or, regardless of where you are, does it depend on the brand of toilet? Why would Canadians need to flush on the left and Trinis on the right anyway? Does it have to do with water going down a drain clockwise (right) in the southern hemispheres and counterclockwise (left) in norther hemispheres?

This morning, driving to buy fruit, I started pulling to the right as I approached the shop ... and found myself instinctively driving on the right side of the road. It felt natural. I realised this when the man in the car heading toward me slowed down and gave me that "whappen!" look. There came a point in TO when driving on the right no longer felt odd. It struck me one day when I was on a bus. It suddenly no longer felt strange to be turning a corner on the 'wrong' side. Even driving here now, I find myself still looking at the other side even though turning on the left. It's like living in two alternate dimensions at the same time.

As I entered the fruit & veg shop (my first time since being back), the shop owner came up to me with a huge smile: "Welcome back! And all in one piece!" He reached out to shake my hand, then pulled me to him and gave me a big hug.

A hand of bananas, an avocado, four ochroes and a chunk of watermelon came up to $51 (TT). That's roughly $9.20 CAD. It felt expensive. He told me the price of bananas went up while I was away.

When he was packing away my purchases, he reached for a plastic bag. I said "Don't worry, I have my bag." I had my green cloth bag which I used at the market and grocery in TO. "Five cents a plastic bag," I said.

He laughed and pointed northwards (meaning that's what they do there but not here).

"Well why don't you implement it in your shop?" I asked him. "Encourage people to use cloth bags by making them pay for plastic bags."

He smiled and shook his head. "They won't do it," he said. "And the plastic people will hunt us down and kill us for not using their plastic!"

Clearly he was joking ... but if in two months I can develop simple new habits and ways of operating, what's so hard about getting consumers to bring cloth bags when they do their shopping?


Lynn Cohen said...

oh my goodness...that driving experience was a dangerous one...glad the other guy wasn't going any faster...some habits need to be changed quickly...like lanes in traffic....

I totally agree about the plastic bags. I have a cloth bag in my kitchen filled to the brim with plastic bags waiting for me to take them back to the grocery store to be recycled. Why can't I put them in my paper recycle bin on the curb? Makes no sense. Why won't my husband, who does all our grocery shopping take the cloth bags in his car and into the store? Why????

some people just won't break old habits.

Anonymous said...

Reverse culture shock! I remember when I came back from a year in Japan... it felt wrong to keep my shoes on in the house, and it took me over a year to re-adjust to the American way of bathing. The Japanese way felt so superior, I didn't want to go back to my old "dirty" ways of bathing in my own filth.