October 8, Press informed us that even in the Netherlands, world champions of tall inhabitants, it is not so easy to be tall 1. But what about in Quebec for this very visible minority?
When I immigrated to Quebec 30 years ago, I was one foot taller than the average Quebecer. Combined with my exotic accent, my appearance was undoubtedly impressive. Since then, I have shrunk a bit with age, while the average height of Quebecers has increased by 1 centimeter. Nevertheless, I continue to overtake the crowd. Looking at me, people rightly suspect that I come from far away. And wrongly, they assume that I am English speaking.
Thus, when I entered the kiosk of a gas station in the Laurentians, the two ladies at the reception, pure Quebec women as was the norm those days, treated me with a certain hesitation. Once the transaction was completed, we were all relieved, they because I spoke French and I because I had managed to make myself understood.
But when I had my hand on the doorknob, the inevitable happened. “Sir, can I ask you a question? “Go ahead, ma’am. ” ” How tall are you ? “Three and a half feet,” I replied without hesitation. ” That much ? ” ” Yes Madam. “Then, after a short hesitation, the following also predictable:” How much is that, in feet? I pretended I didn’t know it and left the girls in a mixture of doubt and admiration.
In particular, Quebec women are not shy about my size. It is not uncommon, in the elevator, to hear two complete strangers say, without even lowering their voices: “Y is great!” »« No, Madam », will be my infallible and true reply:« I am average. My brother, he is tall! ”
Unfortunately, even today, some people feel compelled to speak to me in English. It’s nice to want to help me like this, but like French, English is a rich and complicated language. Thus, my command of English and especially theirs may reduce the quality of our exchanges.
Obviously, I feel like Gulliver, the one to whom the English writer of the XVIIIe century Jonathan Swift wrecked on a distant beach. When Gulliver awoke he found himself surrounded by little fellows, the inhabitants of the land of Lilliput. Swift’s books describe her time in their home and, subsequently, in other countries with such strange inhabitants, with Swift’s focus being the observation of her own culture.
Like Gulliver, by participating in Quebec society, I observe ways of doing things and I learn about myself. I must try not to measure our situation by the Dutch rule. Both the written history of the Netherlands and its economic development began several centuries earlier. Its independence, obtained in the XVIe century, allowed the country to become one of the first modern republics, four centuries before Quebec had passed its turn on two occasions.
Moreover, even if this political independence carried the flag of freedom of religion, it was mainly motivated by economic needs. It is undoubtedly the wealth of the new country that allowed the Dutch to realize their genetic potential and to become the tallest men and women in the world.
I managed to find happiness in Quebec and to make a prosperous life there. Apart from the need to obtain a local qualification, in order to overcome the hesitations of employers, I was able to avoid the classic pitfalls that immigrants face.
My height has no doubt helped me: all over the world, tall people earn more than their average-sized neighbors. An extra vertebra is worth gold! The inconveniences of shower heads, toilet bowls, and horizontal bars on the subway are only minor.
Obviously, I’m not even talking about the one who invited me to settle in Quebec: according to statistics, women prefer slender men. The only real discrimination I suffered was the refusal of a national institution in Quebec to hire me, because I came from Montreal!
But in the end, this successful integration will never be more than partial: guest or intruder, this Quebecer will always be called Gulliver.
1. Read “The tallest people in the world are getting smaller in the Netherlands” What do you think? Express your opinion