One good, one bad, and one piece of trivia that’s about the USA.

The Good.

Recently (actually 2021 and 2023), when I’ve come to my cottage in Minaki, Ontario, I’ve stopped at a large Walmart near the Winnipeg airport to stock up. A large percent of the workers there are either Indian or Pakistani (I’m guessing the former) and they have a great attitude and a great work ethic. They smile and are helpful and in some of them I can almost see the delight they have in their jobs. I’m even less of a fan of Justin Trudeau than I was of his father, but I think Justin is doing something right by letting in more immigrants.

The Bad.

On the eastern side of Winnipeg I stopped at a government liquor store (the Manitoba government still has a monopoly) to buy booze. No longer can you just go in. You get in a line, which was, fortunately, short, probably because it was at about noon on a Thursday, and then someone clicks a switch to let you in a security door. Then you pull out your ID and the person looks at it and compares it to your face. This isn’t about making sure a 72-year old man is old enough to buy booze. The person explained it to me. During the previous year, there were a number of invasions by gangs of young people who would come in, threaten employees, and steal lots of high-priced liquor. This new requirement was the response. It sounded as if I were back in California. My complaint is not about the security measure but about the thugs.

I wonder how a for-profit private company would have handled it. I don’t know for sure but my guess is that the company would figure out a way of letting people in more quickly. The second time I went there, on a late Saturday afternoon after getting back from Montreal, there were 3 people in front of me and it took about 2 minutes per person. It’s hard to get a lot of people in the store with that kind of delay.

The Trivial (kind of).

When I’m at my cottage, I start the day with a crossword puzzle from the Wall Street Journal. I clip about 30 of them through the previous months and bring them to the lake. Here was a clue: “SFO screeners.” The answer that Jesse Goldberg, the author of the puzzle, wanted was “TSA.” That’s incorrect. SFO is one of the few U.S. airports that doesn’t have TSA but, instead, has a private firm. And I do notice little positive differences. David Friedman, some years ago on his blog, Ideas, noticed one big difference in the way the SFO people treated his checked bag versus the way the San Jose TSA people did. I can’t find the URL quickly but it’s worth checking.