We lived in the Middle East for 3 1/2 years. When we left that part of the world to return home to Canada, we were entering a new phase of life – we were retirees! It was a leap of faith. We hadn’t lived in Canada for 5 1/2 years, and could only guess whether our new economic situation was going to be adequate.
We had made quite a few friends as expats, so before we moved home I came up with a cunning plan. If in fact there was going to be more month than money, we could
sponge off visit our friends, on a rotating schedule. If I could find 52 friends who would each host us for one week, we didn’t really even have to have a home. I called it my 52 Friends Plan.
The roll out of my plan took place at our Going Away Party. We invited lots of people. Many of them were going to be retiring to places we thought we might like to visit. When they arrived at the party, I handed them the flyer I had printed up. It read as follows:
The 52 Friends Plan – Peace of Mind
You can avoid Surprise visits from retired Canadians by applying for Membership to The 52 Friends Plan. Once your application has been processed, you will have the peace of mind that comes from knowing that your Canadian Guests will only stay with you for one predetermined week each year.
Are Canadians Hard to Look After?
Canadians are a hardy and adaptable bunch, with relatively few special needs. We’ll send you a short list of ideas about how to make them feel comfortable in your home, along with suggested menu plans and wine pairings. We then encourage you to correspond with your Foster Canadian prior to their first visit. This will guide you in selecting a good list of sights to send them off to, so they won’t be in your home and bothering you during the day.
Is This Like an Exchange Program?
No, you are under no obligation to visit your Canadian in their home environment. But after your Canadian’s first visit at your home, your Canadian will undoubtedly encourage you to come and visit them. You will want to ascertain just what part of Canada your Canadian lives in, and what kind of accommodation they can offer you before you accept such an invitation. And while it is totally untrue that you have seen all of Canada just because you went to Toronto on business, there are many parts of Canada that you might not want to visit if your Canadian invites you to come in February.
The Selection Process
We will select a suitable Canadian, based on the preferences you indicate when you fill out your application form. Once we have assigned you your Canadian, we will send you an 4X6 glossy to hang on your fridge. But, if you are eager to start your friendship with a Canadian today, we can assign you this lovely couple… (Then I inserted our name, address, phone number and e-mail address.)
52 Weeks in a year – 52 Friends. It just makes a lot of sense!
Apparently no one took my 52 Friends Plan seriously. Not a single person signed up. We returned to Canada and resigned ourselves to living on Beanie Weenies and Baby Duck Wine. Within a month of arriving home, we received a request for accommodation from one of our expat friends. Their stay with us lasted for 2 1/2 weeks and we were but one of several people they were staying with as they hopscotched around the country. I was impressed – the 52 Friends Plan was not so far fetched after all! I just had to abandon the subscription aspect of it, and go straight to begging.