The most boring people on the planet do what they’re told. They form lines, shuffle forward and hope their hair is straight. They go here, do this, consume that, speak softly and wait their turn to empty their wallets. A day looks like any other day. A week like any other year.
“He paid his bills on time and his opal card was topped up automatically” their eulogy will read
My friends and I had a 1976 Volkswagen Kombi that sometimes would start and sometimes would not. You couldn’t blame it for not starting as it etched closer to minus 20 degrees outside. The fuel line would freeze or the ignition simply wouldn’t, I don’t know, ignite. I’m not a car guy.
Not to be discouraged, we had a days worth of snowboarding in front of us so we would often hitch hike the hour distance from our mountain cabin to the hill.
Hitch hiking in the Canadian Rockies in 1995 wasn’t exactly playing knock and run on Satans doorstep but a coin toss none the less as to who and what would turn up offering a ride.
One of the more interesting rides we got was from a labourer type who was on his way to work that morning when he pulled over in response to our roadside thumbing.
He had a pick up truck with a large tray on the back that he had built a large wooden housing over. It didnt look right. The truck was metal and the housing was wood. It was also perfectly sealed and didnt appear to have an entry point.
“Where you headed” he drawled as he stepped out of the truck.
“Lake Louise, is that cool?” my mate said
“Yeah you guys can just get in the back” he said as he produced an electric drill and quickly unscrewed one of the larger bits of timber panels on the side of the tray.
We looked at each other and thought
“what could go wrong right?”
He threw us and our boards in the back and then proceeded to screw the panel back on with my mate and I in it. No hope of escaping even if we wanted to.
Lying untethered like the rest of the power tools and timber in the back of his tray, we realised this was a perfect way to end up dead in the forest. What if we hit another car or slid off the rode? We’d already crashed our Kombi a few times and seen many a car in the ditch so we knew it happened.
The blade on the power saw next to me looked like it could do some damage flying loose after a heavy impact into a snow drift wall or another out of control car. We joked nervously for the first 20 minutes or so then fell silent for the rest of the trip. We’d meet eyes and smirk every now and then at each other at the ridiculousness of the hitch but, it was also cold.
God damn it was so cold in the back of that tray. Until you’ve felt minus 20 degrees in your bones its hard to describe.
Eventually we came to a stop. Was this even the hill? Did he take us to some secluded spot to carve us up to be used in some cult like Canadian ritual.
The noise of the drill pierced the cold winter air and the screws came out at speed. More daylight than we’d seen in the last hour shone in and with it a spotlight on our destiny. I piled out pretty quickly half expecting a clubbing to the back of the head but no, here was our promised destination.
“Have a good one eh” he said
“Thanks maaate” came the unisoned reply
We waved goodbye as the Canuck drove off.
I wonder if he did that often. I wonder if he realised that was kind of weird way to carry two 19 year old Australian hitchhikers. Maybe he just wanted to freak out some snowboarders. Maybe that’s just how Canadians roll. They’re kind of cool and off center like that.
My mate and I laughed about it as we quick walked our way to the first chair. Glad to be alive in a foreign country with nothing but a full day of powder and a few frozen sandwiches in our pockets, I turned to Josh and said
“Glad I didn’t go to uni”
‘hahahaha’ – we cracked up.