I am filling up at a gas station in a city just outside Toronto, but to the north. It's around 11 at night, and I am eager to get home. An older white lady is also standing nearby, filling up her pickup truck. She's the only other customer outside.
"Why don't you go back home?"
Huh? All of a sudden, I hear this. I can't believe my ears, so I turn to her.
"Why don't you go back home?" She repeats in a louder voice.
I look around, and then reply, "Er, Toronto?"
"No, go back where you CAME FROM!"
"Um, Toronto?" I reply again. I am sort of enjoying this.
"No." She was now furious. "Go back where to your lot is!"
"Uh-huh, that would be Toronto."
She is now quite livid, and near shouting. "Why do you come to my home, and take MY job, and ... do you know after you guys came, where ALL the jobs went?"
I would have replied "Toronto" but then she had entered the truck, slammed her door and off she went.
It was my proper first brush with racism in Canada. I mean, I have heard it exists, and there are times when I have attributed behaviour to racism, but this was in your face. I was kind of glad I dealt with it in good humour and sarcasm. Perhaps the fact she was an old lady tempered it a bit. But then, why are older, rural folks more racist? I don't know.
For now, I was heading back to where I came from. Good ol' Toronto.