Amy Creyer just wanted to find a new friend or two. Instead, she found a community—and maybe a new passion project.
Transferred from her job at Momentum Worldwide’s Chicago office to ACD at the network’s Toronto office in December, Creyer, a self-confessed “crazy advertising workaholic,” didn’t really feel like a true Torontonian until Feb. 16—the day her furniture and belongings arrived in her two-bedroom warehouse apartment overlooking Graffiti Alley.
An Arkansas native who grew up on a cattle ranch, driving tractors and herding cattle, Creyer had vacationed in both PEI and Whistler, but admits that, like many Americans, she was guilty of taking Canada for granted. “You guys are are just such good neighbours; you’re never throwing trash over the fence or blasting loud music,” she says. “I think we Americans are bad neighbours these days, truth be told.”
Toronto, meanwhile, was like Chicago’s “more polite sibling,” and she was eager to discover the city and its people. She spent about three months working a Momentum’s Wellington St. offices, just enough time for her colleagues Max May and Mark Delisi to expose her to some of the most vital aspects of Canadian culture (“all-dressed and ketchup chips, ftw!”). But the agency’s office closed when the pandemic hit on March 13, leaving Creyer feeling all alone in a new city with no way to meet people.
“It’s exceptionally hard to meet new people when you’ve just relocated during a pandemic,” she says in a email typed while sitting in a dentist’s chair (no big deal, apparently: “I once led a phone presentation for P&G from a tattoo chair,” she says).
After turning up no real friend leads in her first 10 months in the city—except for the horribly banged-up kitten rescued from the wheel well of a rental SUV that she adopted and named Rufus—Creyer turned to social media. She started by posting a message to the Toronto Ad Jobs & Networking Facebook Group on Oct. 14.
Calling it a “shameless plug for virtual coffee dates to make new friends with folks in Canadian Ad-land,” Creyer lamented the fact she had made just one friend outside of the agency during her time in Toronto. “[T]hese days, we can’t rely on the organic friend-making that happens in person,” she wrote. “So I thought to myself, ‘What is the equivalent of me standing in the centre [ed. note: props on the Canadian-ized spelling] of Queen and Spadina with a bullhorn yelling I NEED FRIENDS!'”?
The post received 164 comments from advertising and marketing professionals, with offers to meet up for drinks at popular College St. restaurant Bar Raval and other offers for virtual coffee and wine.
Creyer was so overwhelmed by the response she created a thank you video (see it below) and a website called BeMyFriend.ca, where she continues to solicit friend requests. She has received more than 100 DMs on Facebook and another 20 through the website’s response form.
Creyer says the whole situation has her thinking more these days about what it is to “friend” someone in a world that has been radically altered by a deadly pandemic, as well as meeting people in a strange new city. “What I’ve discovered through these conversations in the last 24 hours is that even before COVID-19, people struggled to make new friends in Toronto,” she says. “So I’ll be digging into that on my new friendship project.”