The Foat and Associates Team has helped a lot of great people relocate to Calgary this spring. This week they’ll be going to Stampede parties and, because Calgarians are a predictable lot, will be asked the same questions repeatedly. It didn’t take long for us to come up with a blueprint of exactly how most of your Stampede conversations will go with co-workers, new friends, and random friendlies.
We created this simple guide to prepare you for exactly what your Stampede conversations entail.
Here's our first hack: don't give yourself away as an outsider, it's Cal-gree, not Cal-Gary. Two and half syllables, not three. You're welcome.
The first question you’ll always be asked is ‘What part of the city did you move into?’
Part = quadrant. Calgary is divided into 4 quadrants. Your quadrant is conveniently at the end of your address. Either Northwest (NW), Northeast (NE), Southwest (SW) or Southeast (SE).
However, there are some important hacks:
Almost all of Downtown is in the SW.
If there’s a NE at the end of your address, but you live west of Deerfoot Trail: just say you're from the Northwest.
If you actually do live in the NE and east of Deerfoot, people will look down on you. You can try to explain how vibrant your community is. How you know the names of all the kids on the block and you just bought an awesome new water gun because you’re tired of playfully getting drenched every weekend. Or every time your neighbour is barbecuing he insists you try a sample and it’s always better than what you’re grilling. Those are true stories from our clients that have bought in the NE. But the person you’re talking to likely won't hear any of the good stuff you say after word ‘Northeast.’ It’s sad.
If you live in the Southeast, always specify 'but not Forest Lawn'. You are justified in saying that.
Which brings us to the follow-up question - ‘What community do you live in?’
Calgary is broken up into communities, all with different names. The difference between one community and another is often which side of a four lane road it falls on. There is no rhyme or reason to these names, so don’t over think it. Just because communities sound similar doesn’t mean they are close to each other. For instance: Woodbine and Woodlands are right next to each other. Parkland and Parkdale are in completely separate parts of the city.
Midnapore, Sundance, Auburn Bay, Chaparral, and Mahogany also have lakes. Lakeview, Bonavista Downs, and McKenzie Towne do not. Feel free to enthusiastically ask anyone if they live in a lake community. They’ll invite you to the lake on a hot day if they do.
Let me confuse you more. Most condo buildings have names too. Like Tribeca, which is in the community in Mission. The name may or may not correlate to the community. Probably not. Tuscany Meadows in Temple, nowhere near the community of Tuscany.
Since there are so many communities, we can’t keep track of them all. After you say what community you live in, you’ll be asked ‘oh, where’s that?’ Don’t ever describe where you live in relation to landmarks. Always use major roads. A penguin living at the zoo would say he lives just off Deerfoot and Memorial. Ralph the Dog, the Stampeders mascot, wouldn't say he lives at McMahon Stadium, his house is at Crowchild and 16th.
Anytime city streets are brought up in conversation the next question is always 'how long is your commute?'
You MUST exaggerate by at least 10-15 minutes. Inevitably, the follow-up question is ‘how bad it is when it snows?’ Don’t answer. Just shake your head and look at the floor as if there’s no subject you want to talk about less.
At this point the conversation could go in any direction. Here’s more simple hacks:
We have a great mayor, Naheed Nenshi. Anyone who doesn't like him is angry about something insignificant. Don’t waste too much time talking to Nenshi haters. (*Second most important hack: It's pronounced Na-head, not Na-heeeeed)
Hockey will come up in conversation often. You can always say, ‘I’m not sure of the direction The Flames are heading.’ This statement has been true for decades. The person you’re speaking with will instantly double in volume and rate of consumption. Nod your head repeatedly and cheers him every minute and a half. You’ve just made a new friend.
At any moment you can say ‘I don’t know why people don’t hit the gas the moment they get in a merge lane?!’ This will always get you a free drink.
Welcome to the Calgary family. You’ll quickly fall in love with this city. In good times and bad, we'll always have your back. Enjoy the Stampede this year. The longer you live here, the less you’ll go. But you’ll never lose your pride about what a great party the Stampede is.