Some things are better elsewhere

Although I dearly love living here, I cannot deny that some things are better in other parts of Canada. And at the risk of getting deported from the GTA, here are some examples of stuff that is better in Montreal, courtesy of a recent visit to a GMA client.

• In Montreal, they pay attention to the people around them. There are usually a number of taxis waiting outside my client’s building but when I was ready to depart for the airport there was one lone cab at the curb. I came out of the door schlepping my rolling bag and moving somewhat slower than the person that had exited behind me. He easily made it to the curb before me, then stopped, turned and asked me if I needed a cab. When I said I did he opened the door for me, wished me a pleasant journey and went in search of another conveyance. In Toronto (or New York for that matter) I would have gotten to the taxi stand in time to see the tail lights in the distance.

• It may be a cliché, but they certainly do have joie de vivre in Montreal. In Toronto, the people who guard access to buildings treat their job with utmost seriousness and gravity. When I got to Montreal, before asking me who I was there to see and my name, rank and serial number, the custodian of the security desk wanted to know if I had ever had a Sakitini, then proceeded to tell me exactly how to make one (although since this was at 8:30 in the morning I’m not sure how this information was immediately useful). He also told me how to make a very easy dessert that I think involved something alcoholic. Once he was sure I had all the information required to serve both cocktails and sweets, he let me through the entrance gate. Not only that, when I returned the next week he asked me if I had tried the Sakitini yet.

• Not many companies have their own cafeteria and indeed at my client’s Toronto office you need to make do with the dismal food court and all of the chaos it entails. In Montreal there is a corporate cafeteria that is accessible to anyone who enters the building (no need to run the Sakitini gauntlet first). And get this – although it is still requires you to collect your own food, the tables are set with cutlery and tablecloths. I didn’t check this out but I wouldn’t be surprised if you could get beer and wine at lunch.

• I am certainly not a fan of winter but if you are a city that has winter (as opposed to Toronto, which is a city that has winter sometimes and denies that it has it the rest of the time) Montreal has some class. Outside the building there was a canopy from the front door to the curb with lights and heat lamp to shepherd you in climate protected comfort in winter conditions. When I visited last week the canopy had been whisked away, which I am sure is one of the official signs of spring in Montreal. Calgary, take note.

• Montreal thinks they have a traffic problem. This is probably because they are on a perpetual bridge repair project. I travelled to the airport at around 6pm, a time when you would be barely moving on any of Toronto’s major highways. As we made our way towards Dorval my cab driver was complaining about the traffic and the delay. We were going at least 80 kilometres per hour. I rest my case.