Friday, May 4

My life as a wimp part 1: Hitchhiking with Charlie

It’s 1992, the location is the south Gulf islands in British Columbia, Canada. It’s the summer I spent working wonderfully short shifts at a posh restaurant on Pender Island, serving haute cuisine to wealthy Americans who would arrive with their enormous yachts (some even carried helicopters), drink too much and leave unbelievable tips. Since I was living in an abandoned hayloft and had yet to develop any expensive habits, my outgoings were ridiculously modest, and so I worked only three days a week. In other words, I was living the life of Riley.

My days off were spent exploring the neighbouring Gulf Islands with my girlfriend. Hitchhiking never scared us. We were both still young and dumb I suppose, but also there was something about these small islands that instilled in both her and I a sense of security. And we had rules, well at least one, which we stuck to religiously: never get in the back seat of a car with only two doors.

But that day on Galiano Island we were exhausted. We had decided to explore the very northern tip of this strangely elongated island, and since there was nothing there, apart from a provincial park which could only be accessed by boat, there was no traffic. We had walked for what seemed like an eternity; we were thirsty, we were hungry.

When a car finally arrived we were so grateful that we didn’t think twice about crawling into the back seat. It wasn’t until the car took off that we noticed that the driver, a big burly dude, was drinking vodka straight from the bottle. In the passenger seat his equally burly and intoxicated friend turned around and, with a leer, checked us out with his hand casually resting on the shotgun, which we now saw lay between the two front seats. “My name is Charlie”, he said, “Charlie Manson”.

What can you do in a situation like that? With the car all over the road, and “Charlie” drunkenly ogling us, we whispered to each other in Dutch (it's useful to have a back-up language in these types of situations), frantically trying to come up with an escape plan. Finally we announced that we had to use the little girl’s room. After a few grumbles Charlie let us out, and we just legged it into the bushes. They shouted after us, but we were like two gazelles, darting this way and that, running for our lives. After a while, with no bullets ricocheting amongst the trees, we decided they had given up, or even more likely, forgotten all about us. We just threw ourselves down on the forest floor, laughing hysterically.

That summer later became known as the summer of many ridiculous adventures. That was also the summer when my girlfriend first encouraged me to write my memoirs and entitle them “My life as a wimp” after realising that I had a tendency to crumble in a crisis (in fact, I crumbled even when there was no crisis). I’m still working on these memoirs now, 15 years later, because unfortunately I am no braver now than I was at 23.

15 comments:

Nicole said...

doesn't sound too wimpy to me. i might be a bit frightened in that situation too.

i had a similar experience in jamaica... although it was in a cab & no gun, but... the driver was slamming red stripes and driving very fast through the twisty mountain roads. all the while, one of the back seat doors did not shut properly, so we had to hold it closed...

btw, so glad you received the book!

xoxo

cheeky said...

Eweeee. That scares me. The thought of that creepy guy scared me just reading about it.
I did have a really good visual of the two fo you running away, like gazelles. Are you sure you didn't sprout wings and fly away?
I simply cannot, even remotely, imagine having the luxury of a yacht, let alone a yacht equipped with a helicopter? Not saying I wouldn't love to lounge around aboard a yacht, but I'm still stunned by the amount of excessive luxury extremely wealthy people take part in.

cheeky said...

*of, oops

daisies said...

what a fantastic story !!

i can so see it. the evils of hitchhiking were so drilled into me that i was always too scared to give it a go (speaking of wimpy) except this one time when i was 14 a friend and I were at a drama festival and apparently hitchhiking was the only way to get around (or so we were told) so we took our bravery pills (we had snuck out of the hotel afterall) and stuck out our thumbs

and

3 cars whizzed right by us. And we felt quite ridiculous about it all ... as we walked back to the hotel. : )

hmmmmm ... all this aside, you seem pretty brave to me, in comes out in your words, the life you live ... i would never have associated 'wimpy' with you ...

BlueJude said...

OH MY! Sure beats my hitchhiking tale of youth! Ahhh to young again...and survive it! lol

Edvard Moonke said...

drinking vodka from the bottle, leering, a shotgun.

and you're scared of my knife? lol

Karen Travels said...

Thank you for visiting my blog, I have been going back in your archives and enjoying yours!! Very inspirational!

Lacithecat said...

I am so glad you are stil here. Smile ... with stories like that - how you can be seen as wimipy, I don't know. I think the whole idea of pushing boundaries was a great - and I too did some stupid/crazy stuff - but it does make me wonder about having children myself (but not in a bad way).

kikare said...

I've never done hitchhiking and I don't I ever will! My most adventurous journey took place in 94 when I backpacked around Europe. Those were the days....

Looking forward to part 2 and more!

Caro said...

You sound like you're smart to me. Good idea to say you had to pee!

Maryam in Marrakesh said...

Oh eek! I used to hitchhike with a girlfriend when I was very young, too. So thankful that nothing terrible ever happened!

Jay said...

If that situatin is at all representative, I don't think wimpiness is your problem!

BlueJude said...

Sorry WG but you've been tagged! See my blog for details!

KatieBelle said...

That doesn't sound wimpy! I would have reacted the same exact way!

I love your blog's header, btw. Very pretty!

bazl said...

That's quite the story. Amazing when you look back at your life and realize just how many times you could have been killed due to stupidity.