May 11, 2009

Because We Can

As I was returning from Rhode Island to Canada on a Friday evening, things were quite different at the border. Normally, you go directly to the Canadian border, answer a couple of questions and on you go. But this time, I saw flashers on the US side, and part of the road was blocked.

I patiently waited in line, wondering what the problem was. When it was finally my turn, a young man asked me for my passport, with authority. He asked me a barrage of questions, barely leaving me enough time to answer one before he blurted the other. I answered diligently and he hand me my passport.

Before leaving, I asked: "I come here often and I've never been stopped like this before. Is it because of the swine flu?"

The young man replied: "No, it's because we can."

I stared.

An older man, who clearly was not as enamoured with his newfound power, explained that it's something they do once in a while, that it was part of their normal field operations.

This morning, I was reading an article in the Globe and Mail about changes in the stores. In the comments section, many people complained that some stores had abysmal service, with clerks who are barely willing to help. Why? Probably because they can, since their employers can't, or won't, do anything about it.

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