From the category archives:



Pardon my swearing. But if there’s ever a day that requires the bluest of language, it’s today.

I went to sleep last night a little worried on your behalf, Americans, but not overly so. Clinton had consistently led in the polls. The electoral math seemed to be in her favour. I was concerned that Trump was closing the gap, but, like many of you, I never really thought he’d win. I figured, okay, Hillary Clinton would edge him out, she’d make a fine and decent president, and life would go on.

I woke up this morning to three things: A lovely home-cooked breakfast by Sophie, the owner of the B&B, approximately fifty unread messages in my inbox, and the sinking news that I’d been wrong. Very, very wrong.

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Last week the Gazette published a rant by a couple of restaurant waiters, in which they angrily chastised customers for committing such cardinal sins as making small talk, asking for allergy-free meals, requesting to be seated in a booth, sending back food when it was not what they ordered, or — gasp! — failing to leave a giant tip. Judging by the tone of the rant, these two waiters probably deserve every lousy tip they get.

Please Don't Interrupt Me While I'm Ignoring YouNow, I’ve spent most of my career working in the customer service sector in some way or another. From my student days working at Fairview shopping centre folding sweaters, to my career in account services and strategic planning for various marketing agencies, I’ve spent most of my adult life trying to make sure that the customer was satisfied. It’s not easy, I’ll grant you. There are days when it’s trying, or when certain people make you want to tear your hair out. There are those clients who make you go home and cry and question your will to live. But on the whole, I love it, and I suspect most other people who deal with other human beings in some way feel the same. I get deep satisfaction from building those relationships, anticipating and exceeding expectations, and making people happy. The one thing that always gets to me is when I’m complimented for simply doing my job. It’s a bit of a head-scratcher: After all, compliments and thank yous are nice, but in today’s highly competitive world, shouldn’t good service be the price of entry?

Bad customer service is one of those universal things that can happen anywhere. People love to complain loudly about airlines, telecom companies, service providers, restaurants, hotels and stores where they had unfortunate experiences or were mistreated. They tell their family and friends. They take to social media en masse. This is hardly unique to Montreal.

What is unique here, however, is this sense that this is perfectly normal. and that nobody really needs to try harder or to do better. There are exceptions, of course. But in general, our service sector is among the surliest, rudest and most indifferent on the continent — and when called out for it, they tend to blame the customer.

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G8/G20 Rant


Fuck the moronic thugs who decided that setting police cars on fire and smashing store windows was an appropriate Saturday afternoon activity. Fuck Stephen Harper and the Conservative government for thinking that hosting this summit in a major urban centre was an appropriate use of over a billion dollars of taxpayer money. Okay, rant over. […]

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How not to ask for money


‘Tis the season to be… generous. Of course, that’s a load of hogwash. Supporting worthy causes is important year-round, not just in December, when the idealists get all imbued with holiday spirit and the cynics think about tax receipts. But for a number of reasons – habit, practicality, what have you – millions of people […]

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Winter tires: Get a grip, people!


Quebec’s mandatory winter tire law comes into effect on Monday. If you’re driving with all-season or summer tires, you’ll officially be breaking the law in less than a week. And I, for one, am sick of all the whining and complaining about this law. On principle, I usually oppose excess government regulation, especially when there’s […]

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Price-gouging: The cell phone market in Canada


Two related stories in today’s Gazette, referring to all three major players in Canada’s mobile phone market: First, a story about how Bell and Telus are both going to start charging for incoming text messages. Considering most of the spam I receive is actually from Bell, that shows some nerve. Coupled with my recent notice […]

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Daylight shifting


As we all know (or ought to, by now), the clocks “fell back” an hour on Saturday night, at least in DST-observing parts of North America. These guys want to abolish Daylight Saving time and stick to standard time year-round. I maintain that we should do the opposite. Daylight Saving doesn’t actually save any daylight, […]

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The Gender Equity issue: a refreshing perspective


While much is being made of Nancy Pelosi’s comments on the relative lack of women in Saudi politics (see below), here at home, under very different circumstances, we’re hearing some of the same issues – and criticisms. Stephane Dion is actively seeking female candidates to run for the federal Libs – he’s even stated that […]

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International EATAPETA Day


I nearly forgot. Luckily, Meryl reminded me. I had chicken for lunch, so I guess I participated. By the way, for anyone interested in why I support this day, or why I hate PETA so much, read this.

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This was not okay. And neither is this: Students and staff at one of Montreal’s largest Muslim schools expressed shock today after windows in their building were smashed and the school bus was vandalized overnight. “Parents are very angry and teachers are afraid,” said Principal Sawaf Layla, at École Les jeunes Musulmans canadiens where shards […]

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