Saint John — “What’s the most snowballs you have eaten in one sitting?” is just one of the unusual questions asked to local tour guides as the fall cruise ship season falls upon the city.
With more than 19,000 visitors expected to stop in the city this week alone, humorous questions from curious Americans are entertaining the tour guides throughout Saint John.
“After Trump is elected president and Canada becomes the 51st state, which will you get rid of first — the metric system, your weird pesos, or milk in bags?” asked one retired schoolteacher from Michigan.
“Where can I buy fresh seal meat?” asked one curious resident of Texas. “Do you have toilet paper for tourists or does everyone use maple leaves too?” asked a New Yorker. “What’s up with all these old buildings? Why don’t you tear them down and build some new ones?” asked another. “Why does your beer taste so terrible… is it because it has maple syrup in it?” “Do Canadians really have glowing hearts, like E.T.’s?”
One vendor at the Saint John City Market is still laughing over one question. “A young man walked up to me and said, ‘OK, level with me. Is this dulse stuff some kind of practical joke?’ I laughed and said, ‘Ah you caught us, but shhhhh… don’t spoil the fun for everyone else.'”
“Some of the questions are just simplistic and naïve,” chuckled one Saint John cab driver. “How does Saint John sustain its infrastructure with most of the residents of the region living in the suburbs? Is it really better to have ‘free’ health care with such long waiting lists for routine procedures? Did they take fluoride out of the water because they love cavities or hate teeth? I mean, you just gotta smile and shake your head.”
Some of quizzical questioning had very little to do with Saint John, according to local bus driver Brian Smith. “I was driving this tour group around last week, and the questions were like, ‘When does a boy truly become a man?’; ‘How do you know we aren’t living in the Matrix?’; ‘Does God exist?’; and, of course — ‘What is the meaning of life?’ — over and over again.
“Eventually I just said, ‘Shut the hell up and look at the leaves.'”