Courtesy of the Canadian Air Traffic Control Association(NEW YORK) — Canadian air traffic controllers are really leaning in to the stereotypical niceness associated with our neighbors to the north.
As a show of solidarity, a number of air traffic controllers have banded together to get meals for their American counterparts amid the ongoing government shutdown.
The grassroots effort started on Thursday, according to Peter Duffey, the president and CEO of the Canadian Air Traffic Control Association.
Controllers in Edmonton wanted to do something thoughtful for their peers in Anchorage, Alaska, who they deal with "all day long," Duffey said.
"It was a natural thing to send it to the people we work with on a daily basis, [but] we got through that fairly quickly," Duffey said.
From there, the generosity spread to other air traffic control centers across the U.S., picking other places where they had connections.
For instance, air traffic controllers in the northern area in Fort McMurray chose to send pizza to air traffic controllers in El Paso, Texas, clearly not because of geographic proximity, but instead because they are both oil towns.
Duffey said another air traffic control center chose to send pizzas to colleagues in Phoenix, Arizona, because it's "a massive destination for Canadians in the winter."
As of midday Monday, Duffey said over 400 pizzas have been sent to 52 different air traffic control facilities in the U.S. — "and that number just keeps growing."
"It was a natural thing for them to do. They wanted to show support," Duffey said.
The effort comes as the government shutdown enters history-making territory as the longest shutdown in U.S. history, with tens of thousands of airport security screeners among those forced to work without pay, prompting some to call in sick and contributing to longer lines at some airports.
He said the cheesy show of support is just the latest in a history of working together in tough times, citing how American air traffic controllers donated thousands of dollars to their colleagues in Fort McMurray after the area suffered from wildfires in 2016.
"We've always stood with our U.S. counterparts," Duffey said. "We really do have each others' backs."
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