Theresa Wells Headshot

Embracing 'Steve:' The Fort McMurray Dating Scene

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About a year ago some YouTube videos began circulating in Fort McMurray, and I think it would be fair to say they went viral. The spread was rapid and infectious, and soon the entire region (and beyond) was buzzing about some guy named Steve who drove truck at site and had dubious skills in picking up women. The videos were funny, fully of lingo that would only really be familiar to those who know a bit about life here (terms like "site", and "short change"), and they played to a fairly common stereotype about this community. Like most stereotypes, though, this one has a nugget of truth in it, and that's probably why it hit the funny bone for so many.

I'm from a slightly different demographic in this community, a married woman in her mid-40's with a teenaged child. And yet when I saw the Fort McMurray Dating Scene videos I laughed too, because I've met Steve in the decade I've lived here, and more than once. Oh, he wasn't usually named Steve, and he didn't always drive truck at site. But the conversation always had an eery similarity to the one depicted in the very first video, and that point was brought home to me in a local pub when I told one man that I am married. When he asked "How married?" I think my jaw hit the table (just before I made a mad dash for the exit).

You see, there is a gender imbalance in this region. There are a lot of men compared to women, and many women come here with their significant others, so single women can be a bit more rare (although they do exist, as I know several). This means men might have to work harder to impress those women, although some, like Steve from site, have a tendency to lose focus on what really matters when it comes to interpersonal relationships (and it isn't how many twenties you have in your wallet, incidentally).

The only people I feel a bit badly for in all this are men who work at site and are named Steve. I'm afraid that for a few months they were the target of their friends' humour, and they quite likely considered changing their names. And I suppose there are those who find these videos embarrassing or too stereotypical or degrading to us somehow, but I'm not one of them. I think one of the most important things we can do is to keep our sense of humour in this region, because God knows we need it on those days when we are stuck in traffic for two hours when there has been an accident on our one bridge that connects the two halves of the city. The other reason I'm quite okay with these videos is that it isn't just in Fort McMurray that you find Steve. No, I met Steve in Toronto, except there he was named James, worked on Bay Street, wore a suit, always had a latte in his hand, and bragged about his BMW instead of his truck. I met Steve in Saskatoon, where he was named Cody, wore a baseball cap turned backwards, had a farm in Warman, considered lattes for pussies, and bragged about his super-charged vintage Mustang. You see every region has their Steve, ours is just a little more obvious, and frankly a little bit funnier. There, I said it. Our Steve is better than your Steve, and we even have the YouTube viral videos to prove it.