14 July 2013


$14.99. That's how much I paid today at Marché Atwater. For one kilo of salt.

Yes, prices at the marché are higher than they are in the grandes-surfaces, but not quite as much. No, I have bought one kilo of the finest, coarse, pink Himalayan salt from Pakistan. My salt grinder had gone empty, and given how long its first fill has lasted, I expect this kilo to last until approximately my great-grandson's death.

Which does not change the fact that I'd spent $14.99 on something that would have cost $0.99 at Walmart.

So I finally had to acknowledge something which I'd been suspecting for a while, but like any good, secretive, egalitarian-affluent Swiss, had been trying to ignore: I am a Premium Canadian. I am part of the very target group my employer claims to penetrate more successfully than any other marketing organization. I am part of that reasonably thick, and yet still markedly buoyant cream layer of society that salesmen of all industries are drooling over. And it feels weird.

For I certainly don't consider myself rich, or even wealthy, in any regard. I live in a rented apartment, have so little in furnishings and property that I had to reduce my home insurance quote twice, own no yacht, no car, not even a bike.  My wardrobe comes from Old Navy and Giordanos. A Great Gatsby, I am not.

And yet, I had to realize that the average annual income in Québec is $34'300, or $53'300 for those employed full-time and year-round. I do admit coming in above that.

Where, then, does the money go? Travel is the obvious culprit, and one I am very conscious of. But it is the everyday things (yes, including the $14.99 kilo of salt) that make me realize the relative privileges I enjoy. I spend impressive sums of money at the local fromagerie. I do not think twice before buying organic beef, on the rare occasions that I buy meat (no $5.99 dozen of Chicken Wings for me, please). I buy my lunches instead of bringing leftovers from home. And I do not find it odd that all my leaf tea comes from Frankfurt, London and Hong Kong. Applying Swiss standards, it all seemed perfectly normal to me, leaving me somewhat confused when a friend from Ontario, on a recent pre-dinner stop at the SAQ, commented my pick with "You always struck me as more of a $25 per bottle kind of guy." So this is Premium, then.

I am unsure as to where this leaves me, other than on the acquisition lists of every credit card company in the country, and in plain sight of greedy separatist Québec politicians. Today, I am a more conscious, and grateful, Premium consumer. And I take all of this talk with a grain of pink, coarse, Himalayan salt.

P.S. Note to prospective burglars: The image in this post does not depict my mansion.

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