Glass eyes, missing limbs, abstinence and more: They can prompt recurring questions — so what's your spiel?
We threw open our Alberta@Noon phone lines and here's what some of you said
By David Bell, CBC News Posted: May 18, 2017 9:19 PM MT Last Updated: May 18, 2017 10:11 PM MT
Is there a question you have been asked so many times that you have a reflexive response ready to go? A one-liner that you've used so many times that it's almost second nature? Some call that a shtick or a spiel.
At Alberta@Noon we threw open the phone lines on Thursday and asked Albertans what their spiel is.
Here's what some of them had to say.
They are like, 'Really?'
Carl George from Edmonton says his glass eye and shoulder scar can often start a conversation with complete strangers.
"I lost my eye when I was 17 so I have a glass eye and I had a work injury to my shoulder which left me with a very long scar," George explained.
"In the summer time when I am wearing a tank top people will ask what happened to my eye. So I got tired of people asking and I finally came up with a story that I was driving down the highway at 180 km/h on a motorcycle and I wiped out and a tree hit my shoulder and went into my eye. They are like, 'really?' And I am like, 'No, not at all, but it's a far more exciting story than the real one."
What are you?
Shahroze Khan of Fort McMurray is Pakistani heritage. He says he often gets asked about his race.
"I always reply with 'I am human,' and then they are like, 'Where do you come from?' and I am like 'I live here.' There is never a right answer to that question," Khan said.
"In small towns where there is little diversity and they see a person like me, they are like, 'Oh my God, where are you from?' and I am like 'I am a Canadian from Fort McMurray.'"
'Usually they are very surprised'
Keri Hilton is a 26-year-old from Sylvan Lake who doesn't drink alcohol. She says often at a party of social setting where booze is served, she brings out her spiel.
"I don't drink and usually they are very surprised and I will tell them why," Hilton explained.
"I have never felt the urge at all, not even in high school, to try to drink anything. I just don't like taking anything that will alter my mind or make me feel different. I just don't like that at all. I don't even like taking medications for anything. I just don't ever want to take the chance of becoming an alcoholic because I do have a little bit of a family history there."
'I have this special hand'
Kathryn Marlow is a producer with Alberta@Noon. She was born missing a left hand and part of her forearm and doesn't wear a prosthesis.
She says she likes to interact with children if she notices they are interested in her appearance.
"When I was a baby in my mommy's tummy before I was born and I was growing into a human being, something happened," Marlow said of her explanation.
"Something went wrong, we don't know what went wrong, it just went a little bit different and so I have this special hand. It has got fingers, I even have a thumb and it's got a fingernail on it. Do you want to feel it? It's OK if you want to touch it but you don't have to. I want them to know that it's OK and I want them to know that it's not scary or weird."
Aren't you native?
Hank Tremblay is an Indigenous man who lives in Grande Cache and likes to attend church.
"I like to go to different churches," Tremblay said.
"When I walk into a church, they ask, 'Aren't you native?' and I say to them 'Life alive inside's the presence of speech spoken from one culture to the next, with understanding opens the door to my life's experience fulfilled."
Tremblay says his spiel can really get people talking.
"It opens the door to conversation and they have no choice but to submit. It's a beautiful experience every time I leave wherever I go."
Are you really a police officer?
Jacquie Olsen is a retired RCMP officer who lives in Leduc. She says being a woman in uniform back when she joined the force was something not everyone was ready to accept.
"Forty years ago when I first became an RCMP officer, back in 1977, I would stop vehicles usually driven by men and they would always say 'Are you really a police officer?' and I'd say 'No, actually I sold the uniform and I stole the car and I am out here for my own shits and giggles,'" Olsen said with a laugh.
She often enjoyed the response she got.
"I always got a hung face and an 'I'm sorry.'"
'It's a medical issue'
Calgarian Tim Whyte says some trips to a big-box retailer have people doing double takes.
"I have some business interests where I go to Costco and usually fill one of their flatbeds full of bathroom tissue and people always give me weird looks," Whyte says.
"I just look at them, shrug my shoulders and say 'It's a medical issue.'"
No shortage of As
Derek Beaulieu is an instructor at Alberta College of Art and Design and Mount Royal University.
He says he always get a kick out of students at the beginning of a semester.
"My students always come in and there is this sense that they are unsure what it takes to get an A in a class," Beaulieu said.
"I tell all my students that an A student is in fact a B student who helps the C student sitting next to them. They puzzle over that for a second and then they realize that classrooms can be more dynamic if they don't have to compete and if they actually start to collaborate and teach each other. The best way of getting an A is to help the people next to you who need a little more help. Some students felt, there was a limited number of As. The pathway to success was a ladder and every other student was a tread that they had to step on. I say, 'No, actually I have all the As you would want. There is no competition here. You would do better if you all work together.'"
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