Lessons from Canada

When I was told that I needed to go to Canada for a work assignment, I wasn’t too sure what to expect. It had been years since I had last entered the Great White North, and that was with family. What would crossing the border on my own be like, especially with camera equipment? Would it be too unusual to drive to Windsor – an hour-long trip where I have to drive south to enter Canada – and then fly a jumper to Toronto? Now that the trip has concluded, I want to share a few experiences where I either learned new things or reinforced good life lessons.

The CN Tower was all lit up for NBA All-Star Weekend!



This was supposed to be an easy work trip. Check into the hotel for the night. Spend the next day working the auto show floor, which included two short press conferences. Take the 9:30 PM flight that same evening and drive back home. Then why did it turn out so complicated?

Simply put, I assumed. Due to the status of our team’s equipment, I needed to use our third-string video camera. This was on loan from another company and it came with its own bulky tripod. I did not want to use that tripod on the trip, so I took the tripod I was used to using. “The camera will fit on there, the mounts should be universal,” I thought.

As I found out the morning of the auto show – by the slimmest of margins – the mount did not fit the tripod. I could not secure the camera and the tripod as a single unit.

That felt terrible. Such a glaring oversight on something so simple, so small. So how did I manage it? Well, the mount on the camera was able to have one side fit into the top of the tripod, but it was just slightly too wide. That said, the camera was able to be held on the tripod securely with a hand to keep it in place, but as a result, the camera was tilted. After adjusting the angle of the tripod’s level, as well as lowering one of its legs, I was able to achieve a level image that was stable with enough support. Panning and tilting? That was another thing altogether, with a now-skewed axis. For interviews and quick shots, it was easy to hold the camera, but the tripod was necessary for these fifteen-minute press conferences.

The effort it took to fix the problem was much greater than it needed to be, had the proper precautions been taken in the first place. Even if it seems unnecessary and redundant, always check the small stuff.


When my co-worker and I arrived in Toronto that first evening, we asked some of our Canadian colleagues where the best place to go for dinner was. One response caught our ear – “If you like sports bars, Real Sports Bar & Grill was voted on ESPN as the best in North America.”

The Detroit Red Wings were playing that evening. Sounded like a plan! When we got to the restaurant, which was part of a mall-like complex that was connected to the Toronto Maple Leafs and Raptors’ Air Canada Centre, the host asked us what should have been a simple question.

“Are you here for The Starters?”

The unusual timing about this trip was that it took place just before the NBA’s All-Star Weekend festivities, which happened to be in Toronto. The hotel we were staying in was connected to the convention center that the auto show was in, which seemed very convenient, but the hotel itself was particularly nice. It was also intriguing to see things in the hotel lobby, like a stand selling All-Star Game apparel or signs for NBA staff and security. That’s when it clicked that this was the hotel where the players would be staying for the weekend. Word around the hotel was that the room rates were doubling specifically for those arrivals. While we didn’t see any current NBA players – they were arriving Thursday night and we were leaving earlier in the afternoon – we did happen to see retired legends like A.C. Green.

So what did this mean for “The Starters”? We didn’t know what that was, so we passed in favor of just wanting a table to eat. Well, it turns out that The Starters is a TV show on NBA TV and they were hosting an All-Star-themed episode live from the sports bar’s venue. It appeared that it would have been free to go to the upstairs balcony to be part of the live studio audience. The episode was not only being pumped through the restaurant’s speakers, but also broadcast on most of the TV screens that were tuned in to NBA TV, so we got to see moments like a poutine eating challenge and Toronto Raptors GM Masai Ujiri making trade deals with the hosts.

Did our hunger supersede our knowledge of the TV show? It seems like it did. But in hindsight, I regret making that decision. While the food was excellent at Real Sports, the venue was so busy that the service was lacking. Seriously, it shouldn’t take 10-15 minutes after you sit down to be greeted and asked about drinks. Besides, how often do you get to be in a live studio audience? As a well-known cartoon character from the ’90s once said, “Take chances, make mistakes, get messy.” Try new things. At least you won’t regret not taking that chance.

Real Sports Bar & Grill in downtown Toronto is legit with that big screen!


Anyone who has stepped foot on an airplane in the last fifteen years knows how much of a pain security can be. Yes, it takes time, but safety in a metal box that zooms through the sky is pretty important. At the very least, the people who are working at the airport are just doing their job, doing the best they can, considering the circumstances.

It would be quite a bother, then, if someone decided to verbally complain about the speed of the security line, wouldn’t it?

You know the complaining type. The one who will say whatever impatient thought comes to their mind out loud, in the hopes that someone – anyone – will validate what they are feeling. The old woman with a thick accent behind me was exactly this kind of person. She wasn’t in a rush to catch a connecting flight, it was just that the one security line was taking far too long for her liking. As we waited about twenty minutes to get up to the front of the line, the verbalization only got more frequent and impatient.

Things nearly boiled over when she said “Could you BE any slower?!” directly to the first officer in the security line that she saw.

I mean, seriously? Bless the security officer, who showed tremendous patience for this woman’s nonsense. He took in jest and simply replied, “Can I go slower? Sure, I can go slower for you. Booooooarding paaaaaassssss, pleeeeeeease…”

I think it’s important to stress that we were in Canada, and not the security-stringent United States. Not only was it nice not to have to take off shoes, but if that kind of petulant behavior was directed at an officer in the U.S., the offender would likely be taken to a room for further discussion.

We can’t have everything we want immediately. We’re all doing the best we can in life. That doesn’t mean you need to lose your patience at something so trivial. Holding on to it is really a virtue, after all.

We happened upon the setup of a private event at CBC broadcast headquarters. SO MANY SCREENS!


As if the show of people acting selfishly was ready for an encore, we got an earful when we sat down at the gate. A businessman was sitting next to us, on the phone with an airline’s customer service, and he seemed to be having a rough time. Flight delayed, wanting to be home with family, the whole bit. But he appeared to be grasping at straws when he was trying to go into fine print (or lack thereof) in an attempt to force his way onto an already full flight.

It’s not just the desperation, but how he was going about it. Throwing his concepts of money, business power, frequent flyer status, and more – all to try to make the customer service representative cave. Threats like “If I don’t like the answers you give, you’ll be sorry.” Coercion attempts like “A lot of business rides on what you tell me next.” And utter delights like “So someone of my flyer status can’t get on that flight, is that what you’re telling me? I paid a lot of money for my ticket. Be careful now.”

After too long, I had to just give up and put on headphones. Enough. They’re not going to kick someone else off of a flight because of how special you think you are, buddy.

I’m glad he wasn’t successful. Shame on that guy. And shame on you if you try any of that garbage. If you are slighted in a situation like that, at least try to work with customer service to come up with a solution that doesn’t involve you being a complete jerk.

There’s a saying that has always rung true, regardless of what service industry (food, retail, etc.) it is – those who treat people who work in service jobs poorly have clearly never worked in that same job themselves.

Be good to each other. A little respect goes a long way.

Some people think they’re the raptor, when really, they’re the frightened one.


The following two tabs change content below.

Peter Spezia

Editor-in-Chief at Rhymes With Asia
Speaking into a microphone about nerd culture is a passion project for Peter Spezia, formerly known as SMYNYouko. Peter has been an Internet broadcaster since 2007, with past shows including Show Me Your News and WTF, Pokémon. His latest ventures include hosting The PowerSwitch - gaming's call-in talk radio show - and writing for RhymesWithAsia.com. A University of Michigan alum, Peter lives in the Great Lakes State with his wife Rachel as he works in video production for FCA US LLC. When he isn't keeping track of the latest video game industry news, Peter is either playing the guitar or staying fit.