When I was a kid, my brother I would go on road trips with our dad. Our parents were divorced, and our dad would drive to Calgary to pick us up and then we would start the very long drive down to Utah where he lived. It was the 1980s and he could toss us in the back of his pickup truck covered with a cap. In the back there were sleeping bags, toys and games such as highway bingo. In the bingo game we had to match different vehicles, livestock, and other common roadside features to win.
Lately, I think many of us are playing our own licence-plate version of highway bingo, except no one wins. Over the past couple of months, I’ve been spotting more American and out-of-province licence plates. I know others have, too, because licence plates are making news headlines right now.
We are living in one of the safest places in the world right now and this is something that makes me feel really fortunate. I know that when we see these licence plates it can make us feel uneasy because it is a reminder that we may not always be as safe as we are right now.
This pandemic is scary, and nothing is going to change that. When we see real tangible evidence that people are travelling from other places with significantly higher COVID-19 cases, of course it is going to leave some people feeling uneasy.
I know that when people are scared it can present itself as anger. There are moments when I have been really worried for my daughter and she thinks she’s in trouble. We can all try to do better, but fear is something that is hard to minimize.
Even if seeing these licence plates leaves us feeling uneasy, I don’t think it is right to harass people, damage their property, or refuse to serve them. Even if we find the actions of others unsettling, it’s important that we do our best to maintain our own integrity.
I know there are people who are living here from other places, that have been here for months and still have old plates on their cars. When I was in college, one of my classmates was from California and his parents owned a house here. He lived here for an entire year and always had California plates.
Dr. Bonnie Henry addressed this issue, stating there are British Columbians who were living outside the province and have returned because this is a safe place to be. Premier John Horgan also addressed this at a press conference, reinforcing that we don’t know the story behind every out-of-province licence plate.
We’ve all heard stories of people from the States coming to B.C. for family reasons or to travel through to Alaska. We’ve also heard stories through the grapevine of folks who’ve used these reasons as excuses to come and vacation.
We know there are going to be people who honour and respect the 14-day quarantine period before venturing out into our beautiful province, and unfortunately there are going to be other’s who don’t.
It’s the people who are openly not respecting these practices, that make people scared. They are the reason that when we see an out-of-province licence plate there is fear that may present itself as anger. This is a trying time for all us and I am sure each of us have moments when we know we could have behaved better.
I started this column sharing that I have family in the America and I have family in Alberta. I have nothing against either of these places or the people who live in them.
In the spirit of safety, British Columbians are urging the Canadian border stay closed. Seeing American licence plates on our Island does raise concern.
I don’t want anyone to be treated poorly based on their licence plates.
This is a time where we are all being taught to be mindful of other people’s comfort levels and to walk carefully through this world being calm and kinds to those around us. British Columbians need to practice this, and so do Americans and other out-of-province visitors.