Moving to a new city is like meeting a new person. You form your perceptions quickly. The first thing that struck me about Edmonton was the number of mentally ill people there seemed to be.
On every street corner someone seemed to want to strike up a conversation. Growing up in Toronto had taught me that the person initiating the conversation will go on to tell you about wearing tinfoil under their hat in order to keep Martians from beaming thoughts into their brain.
What a treat it was to find out the people that wanted to talk weren’t disturbed; they were just friendly. None of my experiences in other cities had prepared me for that. My initial perception that Edmonton indeed was a friendly city has never changed.
The first restaurant I went into in Edmonton was the old Silk Hat on Jasper Avenue.
Upon entering, I was asked to remove my hat before I was seated. Given the current ubiquity of ball caps, muscle shirts and flip-flops in restaurants and elsewhere, it’s hard to imagine that wearing a hat inside was once considered impolite.
After eating my meal, I reached into my pocket for the $20 bill I had taken off my dresser only to find that instead of a 20 I had grabbed a one instead. What was I going to do?
At the till I looked sheepish and apologetic as I explained what I had done. “No problem,” the cashier said. “Bring the money in the next time you’re by here.”
I was dumfounded. Why would the cashier trust the word of a total stranger? Why didn’t she call the police? That’s when I realized I had indeed moved to a very different kind of city.
Many people have asked me why I live in Edmonton. They extol the virtues of their cities by running down a list of things that supposedly make their cities great places to live. However, none of the things they mention can compare to the friendliness and trust I found in Edmonton.