Polite Canadians Make for Boring Car Chases

Canadian intellectual and noted sociologist Erving Goffman once said: “Society is organized on the principle that any individual who possesses certain social characteristics has a moral right to expect that others will value and treat him in an appropriate way.”

Is this why Canadians are so polite, and was he not just re-wording “The Golden Rule” which speaks to reciprocity?

“Treat others as one would like to be treated.”

Don’t worry; this is not going to be a solemn post. It’s not about analyzing how polite Canadians are, how rude Americans are, or how boring the Brits are.

I’ve met rude Canadians, polite Americans, engaging Brits, and the stereotypes quickly fade. I find sweeping comments about politeness to be ridiculous, but I did have a big laugh when a news item tied it in with a car chase that happened recently in Toronto.

In a nutshell, a thief had stolen a flatbed truck, and a police chase ensued on a major highway, well … sort of. It was more of a “police-escorted following.”

The stolen truck was equipped with a governed engine, which restricted it from going over the limit of 105 km/hr. Given that, the flow of regular traffic was actually surpassing this “chase” by about 10-20 kilometers!

To boot, (sorry for the car pun), the thief signaled his lane changes and braked for slowing traffic. Aside from the fact he stole the truck, he was probably a better driver than most you would meet on the highway during rush hour. He even signaled before he pulled onto the shoulder to finally walk into police handcuffs. Come on, you gotta love a man who signals!

Even without a celebrity ex-football player in the truck, thousands of viewers sat glued to their screens for an anti-climatic ending to a five-hour police chase.

Was the thief hoping he’d be given leniency because he was a considerate driver? Hard to say, but on the world stage, not only does Canada now have the most polite citizens, we have the most well-mannered criminals too.


21 responses to “Polite Canadians Make for Boring Car Chases

  1. Pingback: Blogging at Black Ink, White Paper |

  2. If only Canada were a tad warmer during the winter than we are in Santa Fe—this morning is a brisk -2°F with an expected high of 20°F—I’d consider relocating.

    There are a few places in the US of A where the preponderance of drivers are extremely polite. Portland, Oregon stands out. As for New Mexico, when cars are advertised for sale, many could boast “turn signals never used” as a selling point. 😀

  3. I live in suburban Atlanta, Georgia. Go ahead, tell me the stereotypes and generalizations that creep into your mind.

    I’m none of those and neither is my wife or kids. Well, I do obsesses over college football and like fried foods but for the most part, I’m a freak to the types people thing live here.

    I was in Montreal once. The French Canadian attitudes I thought existed of rudeness weren’t there. I was greeted with politeness and care.

    I don;t buy CDs by their cover art and I don;t read books by their jackets. Why is the hell would I judge people by where they live?

    Great article

    • Lance, I hear ya. When I lived in NYC for a year, I was told they were the rudest people on earth – not true at all.
      We all need to look beyond the surface and stereotypes, whether good or bad.
      Never been to Atlanta, but loved Savannah, drove through the worst rain ever going through there — seemed like a rain cloud followed me for an hour, and the wipers couldn’t move fast enough!

      Thanks for your comment 🙂


    • Lance, I think you are a reflection of how things change over time. Stereotypes are born because, at one time or another, they were the predominant reality. But while enclaves of the old South still survive, for the most part they have vanished. My father came from Arkansas—mid South, not deep South—and the last time I visited, there were still a few crackers in his neck of the woods. Over all, however, the South, like everywhere else, has moved forward. I even noticed, on my last visit to my father’s home town, the drawl had softened, almost vanished. Such is the effect of media and a transient population. Like accents, consciousness changes, too.

      So yes, I agree with you. I am reluctant to categorize people by where they live or by any other casual association—color, gender, etc.

      Perceptive response.

  4. That’s why i love Canada and go there as often as i can. It’s even relaxing compared to laid back Seattle. We Had a couple of guys rob a bank in what is now Shoreline WA a few years back. But unlike the police in Canada, our ‘cowboy’ cops chased the robbers, during rush hour, several miles into downtown Seattle, exchanging shots along the way, finally ending in a full fledged shootout near Westlake Mall. Hellishly exciting but not to smart. I vote for the Canadians in this one.

    Loved the post.


    • Yes, Wally, agree with you. I dislike cowboy antics of the police, especially in this day and age when you see so much of it on reality TV.

      This trucker travelled over 500 km of a major highway. He couldn’t go too fast, and eventually he’d either tire or run out of gas. It was a waiting game, but in the end, no one got hurt or killed.


  5. Eden – great story! I’d love to know what the driver’s internal dialogue was like during the course of that 5 hours. And was he the celebrity ex-football player, or was that guy along for the ride (willingly or unwillingly)?

    • Lisa, Not sure what he was saying to himself, probably something like “What the $%$*!^ have I just done?”
      Celeb football player? Ha, no, just a reference to the other slowest police chase in history (à la OJ Simpson).


      • Regarding that chase, Eden, here’s something interesting. At the time of the incident, OJ was working on ABC’s Monday Night Football and Al Michaels was the color (i.e. play-by-play action/explanation) announcer. During this particular chase, ABC called in Al Michaels to cover the action, as well. Ironic, isn’t it? 🙂

  6. Wow I wish everyone in Williamsburg drove like that. I live in a retirement town so the driving can get reeeeaal interesting reeeal quick. Ha!

    Great post. I needed a little giggle this afternoon 🙂


  7. Oh Eden, I laughed out loud. Great story! Thanks so much for sharing it!!! We seldom have polite drivers much less polite truck thieves. LOL!!! Too funny, what a great story.



  8. Thank you so much for sharing this wonderful story, Eden. You painted the picture so vividly with your words that it made me laugh out loud! If criminals behave like that over there, I want to emigrate! Mind you, I probably get into trouble with my speed though, as I had to go onto a driving couse last week – the bloody camera said that I was driving 38 in a 30 mile zone – it was a dual carriage way and it used to be 40!

    • Ha Junying! Well…I wish every criminal was so accommodating, but alas, some are pretty bad.

      I’m like you – I always speed, but I’m a careful driver. The slow ones are more dangerous sometimes!


  9. Hmm, I wonder if things might have been different in Montreal? 🙂

  10. I wasn’t home when this was going on, but I remember it being on the news. Only in Canada, it sometimes seems.

    I just wonder if he thanked the officers as they cuffed him….

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