Don’t gouge Canadians on currency exchange

During a visit to Ellicottville several Sundays ago, I happened to be in the checkout line at a gas station and mini market. Just ahead of me were two young Canadian men, probably 17 or 18 years of age. It’s important to note that Ellicottville is a key skiing destination for our friends from across the border. Indeed, our Canadian counterparts are welcome guests. They mirror our culture, appreciate and respect our country and contribute greatly to our economy, not only in this celebrated ski town but throughout Western New York.

I watched as one of the young men handed the clerk a Canadian $10 bill. She took the money and said, “This is worth $7.50.” He smiled, retrieved the $10 bill and gave her a $5 Canadian bill. Again she advised him of the exchange value of the bill, which in this case was $3.50.

I was shocked and somewhat embarrassed. Knowing that the U.S. and Canadian dollars have been and currently are valued at close to par, I viewed this exchange as a most egregious example of gouging. I do believe that a somewhat more mature Canadian citizen would have complained and/or left the merchandise on the counter and walked out. Certainly that would have been my reaction.

Ignoring the moral implications of such a one-sided transaction, consider the social and economic impact on our relationships with our Canadian guests. Over time, repeated incidences as described above can only lead to a loss of respect and ultimately to alienation. Dealing fairly with our Canadian friends helps to reinforce the historical and mutually beneficial relationships that we have enjoyed for many decades. Let’s do it right.

Nicholas D. Mecca