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FRESH OFF THE PLANE: A lesson for a rainy day

I should explain that I do know what a rain check is – in English. When someone says they’ll take a rain check, I know it means they can’t accept an invitation, but will do so for a later date. I also happen to know that it originates from replacement tickets that are handed out, guaranteeing admission for an event to be held at a future date if the one you hold tickets for is rained out or cancelled due to rain.

But I had no idea it was also used in a commercial context, in conjunction with items on sale at stores.

Thus it was that I found myself in a confusing conversation with a salesperson at a large department store soon after our arrival in Canada.

Their weekly flyer had several items on sale that my wife said we needed. We found most of what we needed but couldn’t find the detergent that was advertised. 

It was no big deal, I said, we had everything else. 

“Are you serious? If you did laundry you would know what a saving it is,” my wife protested. “I was planning on picking up two.”

She insisted I ask an employee for assistance.

I hailed a passing employee and asked him where they had hidden the laundry detergent.

It should be in the display out front, he said, but since it wasn’t, he offered to walk me to the correct aisle to find it.

We chatted about this and that as we walked through the store. The advertised detergent was not in the cleaning products aisle either and he asked me if I wanted a rain check.

I must have looked blank, because he began to explain what a rain check meant.

“I know what a rain check means,” I interrupted. “But what does that have to do with the detergent?”

He explained it meant that they would give me a slip of paper that would entitle me to come back and buy it at the sale price when it did become available again.

“Why would the store give it to me at the sale price when the sale is over?” I asked.

“To thank you for coming in and to apologize for not having it in stock,” he said.

I thanked him for introducing me to rain checks in Canada and picked one up at the customer service desk.

“You didn’t find it?” asked my wife, disappointed, when I walked back to where she was waiting.

“No, but I got you this!” I said, with a laugh, getting ready to explain the concept of rain checks to her.   

                                                                                                                                 – Surendra Rao

What’s your story? Every newcomer, no matter how savvy or where he or she comes from, has a Fresh Off the Plane (FOP) story to share about their early days in Canada. Do you want to share your story? E-mail it to us at canadaboundimmigrant@rogers.com.

Posted: Apr 30, 2014

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