Sunday, May 31, 2015
Yesterday was another special day for Michael, as he reached the site in Thunder Bay where Terry Fox had to end his journey. It was also a day in which Michael continued traveling on his own, without his new friend Dave. Read on:
"Today is a quiet day. I have to do several things. Send mail, update my blog, Skype with me family... and arrange my bus trip to Winnipeg!
All together quite a few things, but first I am going to get some breakfast at Tim Hortons. It is conveniently close to the motel. I am staying in the harbour area, because that is where the Greyhound Bus Station is located. That likely means that this is not the most attractive part of town.
It is busy at Tim Hortons, but there is a certain atmosphere that I had not yet come across in Canada. It lacks warmth and the people seem to be unaware of each other. There was a light frost last night and although the weather is reasonable right now, it is still cool.
I do all kinds of things on my computer; I Skype with Han, my editor. We talk about the website and how everything is going. I do indeed experience many special moments that I could never have imagined. Around 2:45 pm I Skype with my wife. It is wonderful to see her again. She feels that it is about time this would be all over. I kind of agree with her: it is a very long separation. But I am really glad and happy to see her and speak with her. I also talk with my youngest son for a bit and at 3:55 pm I say my digital goodbyes.
Because it is Sunday, I cannot get a hold of either CTV or CBC and I can't get in touch with Greyhound until after 6:30 pm. I can't order my bus ticket on-line, which would be much cheaper, because I also have to take my bicycle. So I call them at 6:30 pm sharp. They book the ticket and I give them my credit card info. It appears that I have to show up early tomorrow morning to get all my bags weighed, because I have to pay extra for those. OK, I'm thinking, I don't like that, but it is understandable. However, just before I hang up, she says: "O, yes, you do have to put your bike in a Bike Box!" What!? I ask if she can repeat that. They don't take bikes without a box. Well, damn... I specifically called about that yesterday. First they omit to tell me that the ticket price goes up every day; I can't buy a cheaper ticket online because of my bike, and now there are additional instructions for transportation.
When I ask how big the box is she says that my bike would easily fit: "You “just” have to take of the wheels and the handlebar." "No way!", I say...
I notice that I am getting angry and try to contain myself. I am not getting an answer on my question about the size of the box. It is 6:45 pm by now and I decide to bike to the bus station to see how big these boxes actually are and which, of course, I have to buy separately...
The road to the bus station is miserable and I was already pretty mad. There are potholes in the road big enough to make several dogs disappear. After 5 km, I am there. First I have to wait and I notice that things do not really go fast around here. When it is my turn, I ask if I can see a Bike Box. "Oh, those are big and I can see that you bike will certainly fit in one", pointing at the window where my bike is standing.
"I just would like to know about the exact size",I say, slightly irritated. Then a young lady brings in a big bike box. It appears to be 140 cm by 90 cm. Just for comparison, the box I used at Schiphol airport in which my bike barely fit, was 185 by 120 cm.
I try to measure the box with her help, when a passenger, who is hearing the conversation and seems to take pity, offers a measuring tape in centimetres instead of those stupid inches... I measure my bike, but the frame even without the fenders and wheels won't fit. It is suggested that I go to Walmart or Canadian Tire for a box. Yes, but it is Sunday my dear. The young lady seemed to have forgotten. I am pretty upset and irritated and say that I will only take out the front wheel and turn the handlebar sideways and that is all I will do. “Well", she says, "I don't know, I thought it would have fit." "What if I can't bring my bike, then I have a bus ticket that is useless to me" "Yes sir, you have a non-refundable ticket." "Well, I am not impressed, someone handily sold me a ticket on the phone and neglected to tell me that my bike had to be boxed. False information." This makes her change her attitude a bit... Grrr.
Suddenly a young woman comes in, pushes herself in front with the announcement that her friend is very handy and he can certainly be of help to me. I walk outside to see guy completely covered in tattoos, he announces right away that he is here to help people because he is a Christian. Little alarm bells go off in my head warning me to take care. This is too obvious. I am on alert as he says he'll do anything to help. My thoughts are racing but I suddenly realize that I could make one big box out of two boxes. I check inside to see if this is possible and one of the bus drivers sees no problem with that, as long as the bike is boxed properly.
The Christian guy wants to know if I have been helped. "Yes, thanks" I say. I want to get away from him because I don't trust him one bit. "OK", he says right away, "That is great, than you can help me now. I need $80 for a ticket for my wife." I knew it, and because I am not a happy camper today, I look him directly in the eye and stand tall right in front of him. I am seething. He turns his eyes away and says: "Well yeah, I am sure you can't miss it on your trip. God bless you!" and he walks away. I must have intimidated him quite a bit, because he runs off with his tail between his legs. What the heck kind of place is this?
In the meantime I am starting to feel hungry, but first I want to check at Walmart to see if they have any large boxes. I explain twice what it is I am looking for and they bring me a set of file boxes. When they finally understand what I need they check their supplies: "No, we don't have that."
I have had more than enough enough! Tomorrow I will buy two boxes at the bus station and will make sure I am there early enough. But I have a feeling this story has not quite finished yet.
On the way back I eat at a KFC restaurant en order four pieces of chicken with fries. When I get my order I am mildly disappointed. Only one piece of chicken is of reasonable size the rest is just wings. I was already mad... in other words, this is not my afternoon. I order some more later, because it is not enough to satisfy my hunger, and this time the kitchen understands what pieces of chicken really are.
When I get back to my motel room, doubts start creeping in. I am so done with this. When I look at the route, it is going to be tense. I may have to take a bus one more time. That could be quite welcome in the Rockies. Great, it means I would have to buy another bike box there. Impossible!
I am so sick and tired of it that I contemplate to leave everything for what it is and fly back home. The English translations of my blog are getting behind. I lose more attention that I can attract and the media response is non existent right now. I don't have enough time to coordinate this all myself. And now the stupidity of this afternoon...@*&$@$!
But also, because I miss my wife and children. If I go back now, I can still attend my son's graduation and go back to work, which would make a difference financially because this is costing me a lot of money.
No, I am thinking, I will continue. I do feel miserable though. I work so hard and I am not getting the attention I want. I seem to be losing the attention here in Canada. It is very frustrating...
Suddenly, I realize once again why I am doing this. I will continue!!”
Han Schomakers, editor
Translation by Sytske van der Veen