Tim Hortons is a Canadian coffee and donut chain, venerated by Canadians more as a community gathering place than as a coffee shop.
Some would argue that life's greatest lessons are learned not at home, nor at school, but at the local Tim Hortons. This Canadian institution is in fact where many key curriculums are covered, including but not limited to:
- Vocabulary: Tim Hortons is rumoured to have coined the phrase ''double-double''
- Maths: What are the odds of bringing home a car in the ''Roll up the Rim to Win'' contest?
- Science: What chemical properties in Tim Hortons coffee render it so addictive?
- Social studies: What is it about Tim Hortons that causes strangers of all ages, races, religions to be willing to share a table and exchange life stories over a steamin' cuppa?
- Innovation and sustainability: Tim Hortons invented the Timbit, thus reducing waste by creating a whole new donut from the donut hole traditionally discarded by less progressive bakers.
- Time management: Tim Hortons drive thru's have mastered the art of efficiency. No faster can you say ''I'll have an extra-large double-double with an everything bagel, buttered on one side only, and a french cruller'' than it will be all packed up and delivered through your driver's seat window. Mind boggling.
- Finance & Economics: Where else can you still get a soup, donut and coffee for under 10$ Canadian.
- Meteorology: EVERY Canadian blizzard is immediately followed by weather enthusiasts who congregate at their local Timmies to resolve once and for all how much more timely snow removal would have been if the city had only invested more in dump trucks and salt.
All of this, coupled with the fact that it is Canada's largest food service operator, surpassing even McDonald's, tells you that Tim Hortons is no flash-in-the-pan franchise. It is indeed an industry unto itself.
Needless to say, Canadians in Qatar were thrilled beyond belief when it was announced that Tim Hortons would finally be piercing the Doha market back in 2013. For years we'd gracefully swallowed Turkish coffee. But there was no hiding it - the year Tim Hortons opened its franchises in Doha is the year a Canadian pulse truly started beating in this desert city.
We were willing to live with the fact that you couldn't get a proper BLT sandwich (just not the same without pork bacon), and that the shop name carried a ''Cafe and Bake Shop'' suffix (just sounds a bit posh for the likes of the veteran Timmie's crowd). But there are some offences that Canadians are still struggling with about the Doha Tim's rendition almost two years after it first set up shop.
I've listed a few of the more glaring ones below. And I swear to you that I have personally been witness to every single one of the following Tim Hortons etiquette breaches. Canadians, be warned, you may find this offensive, and may choose to not read further.
Patron: ''Hi. Do you sell Krispy Kreme donuts?'' (Blasphemy!)
Patron: ''Can I please have the iced cappuccino, but please don't make it to cold.'' (????)
Patron: ''Yes, I would like the Canadian Maple donut, but without the maple please.'' (Seriously ... Canadian WITHOUT Maple? That's like expecting yin without yang.)
Patron: ''Do you have Turkish coffee?'' (Uhmmmm, nope. No falafel either.)
Staff: ''No, I'm sorry Sir, we only have American coffee.'' (PARDON ME????)
Patron: ''Why don't you write my name on the cup? Starbucks always writes my name on the cup. Yalla, please write my name on the cup.'' (No one would EVER dare try this in Canada; you would risk being barred for life.)
Staff: ''Ma'am, we're out of Canadian Maple donuts. Would you like to try the croissant with Zaatar?'' (Deep breaths, deep breaths ...)
Staff: ''I'm sorry Ma'am, the coffee machine's not working. Would you like some iced tea instead?'' (I think I might have to slash my wrists now.)
Staff: ''Ma'am, do you want your iced cappuccino cold or warm?'' (There is NO SUCH THING as warm ice, people!)
International Community, please take me seriously. Tim Hortons is the java beast icon of Canada.
It is the only supplement we need to get us through -50C winters and 8 feet tall snowbanks.
It has sustained many a university student through final exams, mothers through their child-bearing and rearing years, and fathers through double shifts at the plant.
It has helped heal international rifts, paving the way for peace negotiations.
It has helped economically disadvantaged children develop lifelong skills that help them bring a positive attitude and commitment to their lives and their futures.
It cannot be treated as just another commodity. Many would argue that Tim Horton's is the heartbeat of our Nation.
I beg of you - the next time you're at Tim Hortons in Doha, simply treat the shop with the simple reverence it commands. Don't overcomplicate things or try to pull an ''elongated double java iced frappe latte with caramel sprinkles''-type manoeuvre on the hapless staff.
Simply walk up confidently to the cashier, order a large double-double and a box of Timbits, ask the cashier about her mom's health, take your tray, go sit next to a lonely patron, offer up some Timbits, and start up a conversation about the weather.
And do NOT - EVER - again make mention of Costa Coffee, Starbucks, Krispy Kreme or Dunkin' Donuts while inside a Tim Horton's establishment.
It's that easy.
PS We even write songs about Timmies. That's how seriously we take it. Click on the link below for a glimpse into how the average Canadian feels about his/her ''T-I-M H-O-R-T-O-N-S'' (song by Johnny Reid).