An Open Letter to Tim Hortons

Warning: The following content may be considered blasphemous by some especially patriotic readers. Reader discretion is advised.

Dear Tim Hortons,

There can be no doubt that you are a venerable Canadian institution. You are a beacon of hope for weary travellers, a bright red scrawl across the night sky that proclaims, “You are not alone. We are here too. And we have donuts.”

You are the place where people of Saskatchewan will gather of an evening to strike up a heated debate about the proper way to shingle farmhouse roofs. You are the place where a nervous young man from Chatham, Ontario will bring his terrified new girlfriend to be greeted and then politely interrogated by his mother and grandmother over a cheese tea biscuit. You are the place where friendships are strengthened, where relationships are kindled and then, possibly, destroyed.

You are thoughtful enough to provide us with coffee in small buckets, for those long stretches of empty road, and thoughtful enough to have stationed your next outlet at that exact point when we were beginning to wonder whether bladders actually can explode.

You are good enough not to cast disparaging glances at poorly dressed passers-by who shuffle in at 7 AM with toothbrush and facecloth in hand and disappear into the bathroom, only to sidle out again a few minutes later, looking guilty.

And you were forward-thinking enough to anticipate the plight of the wandering blogger, and to provide free Wi-Fi in all of those small Canadian towns in which your presence has eliminated the need for a locally owned coffee shop.

For all this and so much more, Tim Hortons, I salute you.

But it is my belief that no institution is perfect, even those that draw smiley faces into the foam of their heavily sweetened, perfumed, coffee-flavoured beverages.

And so I feel that it is my patriotic duty to offer up a few suggestions that could take you to that next level. You’re welcome in advance.

First, dear Tim’s, don’t you think it might be time to add one or two more meatless options to your delightful selection of sandwiches? It may surprise you to learn that some of us do consider chicken to be a form of meat. And while there is nothing inherently wrong with egg salad, not all of us find a mound of pulverized eggs transformed by copious quantities of mayonnaise into a sort of gelatinous goo to be the most appetizing meal. I, for one, enjoy eating food that does not appear to have been pre-digested.

Oh, and while we’re on the subject, calling two slices of toast and a couple of Kraft Singles a grilled panini doesn’t make it classier. Or more enjoyable to eat.

I know how you will respond. You will tell me that you offer a wide variety of bagels, with several different flavours of cream cheese. And I will grant you that your bagels are quite good, though I would like to point out that most of the world’s bagels actually do come with a hole in them. The hole is not an accident. It is not always necessary to try and correct the bagel’s mistake by filling the hole with cream cheese. Mouthfuls of cream cheese are all well and good, I suppose, but some of us quite enjoy having an equal ratio of bagel to creamy spread.

But don’t you think it might be possible, once in a while, to replace that cream cheese with real cheese, to add a couple of slices of tomato and lettuce, and then to swap out the bagel for some bread? To make a cheese sandwich, in other words? How to explain… it’s like a ham and cheese sandwich… but without the ham. I hope this is not too confusing.

And another thing, dearest Tim’s – when I order a coffee and you ask me if it’s to stay, and I say yes, why must you then present me with my drink in a paper cup? Does that not seem to you to defeat the purpose of asking me whether I’m planning to sit down? And is it truly necessary, when I ask for a real mug, for you to stare at me with a mixture of confusion and contempt, as if I clearly just don’t understand the way things work in your establishment? Have I misunderstood? Are the mugs just there for show?

Finally, beloved Tim’s, while I am eternally grateful for the internet you so graciously supply, I have to point out that those of us who use computers also often need to use power outlets. This is a service you have apparently deemed it unnecessary to provide. I have to admit to you that, while I was travelling through the States, I was left with no alternative but to take my business to McDonald’s. I’m sorry. I know this will come as a blow to you, but you had forsaken me in my long pilgrimage down the I-94, and McDonald’s also has free Wi-Fi. And this may be hard for you to hear, but McDonald’s provides power outlets. Conveniently located power outlets. Several of them.

You see, every time my laptop’s battery dies, I am forced to go and sit in my car and plug in to my car’s adapter. And although I am quite fond of my little car, it is sometimes nice not to have to try and type with my laptop perched on my emergency brake. Also, I feel that this is a practice you might frown upon, if you were ever to catch me at it.

Tim Hortons, you have proved yourself time and again to be versatile and responsive to your clients’ needs. When we needed more coffee, you provided. When we needed a 370-calorie caramel apple danish, you provided that, too. So I ask you now, on behalf of myself and all of the other Canadians I feel sure I represent, please hear us. And please act. Preferably as quickly as possible, because I’ve got another three months to go, and at least another 1,500 outlets to visit. If you could have some of this stuff worked out by June, that would be great.

Thank you.

Maura (and the rest of Canada)

P.S. By the way, you make a mean lemon poppyseed muffin. Please keep up the good work.


5 thoughts on “An Open Letter to Tim Hortons

  1. Katharine

    Ask for a garden vegetable sandwich at Tim’s. It’s tomato, lettuce and cucumber and cheese; I choose herb and garlic cream cheese. I’m sure you could get the sliced cheese instead. Also, I think you can request for your coffee to be in a mug if you’re staying. These are all the things I learnt while dating Travis. Bask in my Tim Hortons knowledge! Bask in it!

  2. Santosh Pradhan

    I was in Gaspé, QC one summer on a Saturday night. Their Tim Horton’s was packed with townsfolk. C’était du jamais vu…

  3. mauraforrest Post author

    Katharine, you have this down to a fine art. I am impressed. And Santosh, I know what you mean. I was in one on a Friday or Saturday night in a small town in the prairies, and it was hopping. Clearly the place to be….

  4. Matty

    A veggie post! Maura!

    I hate Tim Hortons too but only because I find them dirty and the food tastes gross and they’re loud and uncomfortable and people keep dragging me there.

    And that sickly-sweet trash about “oh we’re Canadian and heritage – yey Hockey” blah blah blah; grow up! You sell crappy coffee and doughnuts!

    And that’s how I feel.


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