March 13, 2015

Vancouver Shakedown: the infamous #BCBail

“The snow is in Whistler, but the flakes are in Vancouver”.

It’s an unflattering phrase I’ve heard a few times, describing a social ill that is supposedly creeping into our behavioral patterns like mold in a grow-op. You’ve likely already heard about Vancouver’s not-so-nice social rep of being “unfriendly to newcomers” and that “it’s hard to make friends here”. Apparently these days, if you actually do manage to make friends and then make some plans, there’s a very strong possibility that your new Vancouver pals won’t even show up. This rampant condition has a nickname. It’s called “The BC Bail”.

When my friend Lizzy relocated from Toronto to Vancouver, she received advanced warning of the BC Bail. According to Lizzy, “the BC Bail is when you make plans, but know in the back of your mind you might not actually go through with whatever it is you just agreed to, then you cancel last minute”.

Lizzy’s lived in Vancouver for five years now, so I asked her if she thinks flaking out is still an issue. “Oh yeah”, she said without hesitation. Lizzy is the founder and producer of the wildly successful Rain City Chronicles storytelling event. It’s almost always sold out at venues across the city, yet an average of 15 per cent of ticket holders don’t show up, at $22 a pre-paid ticket.

“I plan for people to bail.”

“It’s just downright disrespectful to flake, and definitely a Vancouver phenomenon”, says Jay, a recently thawed-out transplant from Winnipeg. “Vancouverites take their reputation for being laid back way too far. No one can stick to a plan. Maybe it’s the lack of a real winter? In a Winnipeg deep-freeze, there’s real value in getting together with friends. In Vancouver, I’ve bought concert tickets for a friend and me, and have been stuck with the extra ticket when he inevitably jammed out. Not cool.”

Leigh moved here from Charlottetown, a city known for its close-knit community. Surprise! She agrees with Jay and Lizzy. Leigh feels it’s all about the better option. “When people make plans here, they wait until zero hour to see if there’s a better choice, or a cooler party. Then they bail. It’s so frustrating.”

Vancouver! What can we do about this abhorrent behavior? According to my friend Lauren, who wrote about the BC Bail on her fantastic blog “Grown-Up Party”, it’s best to get out ahead of the problem by not over scheduling. “I’ve recognized that I don’t like to have plans two nights in a row during the week. So now ahead of time I try to spread them out, as a pre-emptive strike on the BC Bail.”

Lauren also strongly believes that cell phones are a huge part of the problem, when all it takes is a quick, shockingly guilt-free text to bail on plans that may have been in the works for months.

OK look, as a guy who has lived in Vancouver my entire life, I’m willing to do my part to put an end to this ridiculous BC Bail stuff. In fact, I have plans to meet friends for drinks at a craft brewery tonight, and damn it, I’m going to show up. But then again… I do have three episodes of Better Call Saul on the PVR… and it’s raining… and I’m already in my boxer shorts….

Do you think the BC Bail is a social problem in Vancouver? Are you guilty of pulling a BC Bail? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below or tweet me! #BCBail.

Read more of my weekly Vancouver Shakedown here.

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