Monday, December 17, 2007

Shopping report and a couple of notations to the people in charge

The shopping expedition to Watertown was a partial success: I found a couple of good deals on maternity clothes, but I was disappointed with the lack of selection. Books were much cheaper, which is obvious from the US prices stamped tauntingly on the covers up here. Large appliances were also less expensive. One of the couples we went with needs a new set for the house they’re buying in January. They took photos of the American fridge and stove prices for negotiating power up here later. “Well, I have a friend with a cargo van, so if you can’t do better than what you’re currently offering...”

Note to Canadian retailers: Learn something from your American counterparts. It is not necessary to have 87 people in line when you can open another cash.

Surprisingly, electronics, music and software were the same or more expensive than they are at home. And the fast food joint we stopped at was also pricier.

Note to American soft drink distributers: Try to get more variety in your non-caffeinated pop, er, soda. You have this substance called Sierra Mist, which was my only option, and quite repellent, though to be fair it may have been a faulty drink fountain. Also, Mountain Dew should not contain caffeine. I have spoken. ;)

It was a fun road trip, and gave us something different to do on a Saturday. We had a great time chattering in the car on the way down and back, including what seems to be a standard cell phone exchange for our group:

“Where are you guys?”
“About to cross the border.”
“Ack! You got ahead of us. We’ve stopped at Timmies.”
“Wait for us once you’ve gone through customs.”
“What, you want us to pull off the road beside the border guards? That won’t look suspicious at all. Why don’t we just yell ‘Death to America!’ while we’re at it?”
“Finish crossing the river and then pull over.”
“I gave you a map. I’m pretty sure Watertown isn’t going to up and move while you buy a doughnut. Just meet us there.”
“We lost the map.”
“Of course you did. You realize I’m getting picked up by a US cell tower right now, which means this call is costing both of us approximately $7000 a second?
“Just pull over once you hit the mainland.”

I also find it entertaining that people who live so close to each other and speak the same language can have such completely different accents. The entire pronunciation structure and speech pattern changes the second you step across the border. Coopon vs. Quepon. Hawkey vs. Ice Hackey. Fan-tas-tick vs. Faen-taes-tick.

Note to the Department of Transportation or whoever is in charge of the road planning in Watertown: Rip it all up. Start again from scratch. I have never seen traffic so horrendous in such a small town. Luckily the local people seem resigned and relatively polite about the whole thing. Can’t even blame cross-border shoppers for increasing the volume, ‘cause I didn’t see another Canadian plate the entire time we were there.

So, the summary of my vague and wandering report is: You can find good deals on a few things, but unless you’re only buying those things, and buying a lot of them, it’s better to just check the local flyers and shop at home.

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