In 2006 I rode my motorcycle across the continent and back again—one way in the USofA and the other in Canada. The book I wrote about the trip was my first significant book. It is self published and thus far too expensive for anyone to buy except me. Not because I have a lot of money, but because I want to leave it behind. Something the grandkids can look at one day and say, "so that’s what my grandfather did—I never knew."
There are segments of the book that I enjoy and I decided to include one in this essay. To set the stage, it was very early in the morning after an evening in my tent amongst a bunch of thoughtless, somewhat drunk young people, probably in their early twenties. I’d hardly had a wink of sleep, but the sun was up and I couldn’t lie about any longer. Initially I thought I would get my revenge and make a lot of noise when I packed up the motorcycle and rode off, but my other neighbours were a young mother with her kids and I didn’t want to ruin whatever sleep they were now getting. I left the campground just outside Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia, heading north on Highway 1, promising myself never to return. This is where the extract from my larger story begins.
Riding a motorcycle while being overtired is not a smart thing to do. A day of touring doesn’t go by without having to make some quick manoeuvre to avoid an obstruction, get control of the bike due to some anomaly in the pavement, or avoid someone who thinks they own the road. Y ou need to be constantly aware of the risks, yet there I was heading out with little sleep, putting myself at risk if I didn’t stay alert. The good part about being on the road early was that I had the highway to myself and could comfortably throw my bike through the curves of the winding, car-less road down the Annapolis Valley. The air was warm and the green farm fields viewed through breaks in the overshadowing trees made the ride almost dreamlike. The anger and frustration of the previous night melted away as the bike smoothly propelled me north towards Halifax.
The Tim’s doughnut shop at Middleton beckoned me for breakfast, so I went in.
At the counter were representatives of a similar group to the one that created my little hell-in-a-tent last night. A guy and a girl had been sent for coffee by the rest who were too hung over to get up. I knew this because the two of them were having a loud, running dialogue about who drank what and did what to whom the night before.
I asked them if they were the nominated coffee slaves for the morning.
“Hell no,” the girl said. “I’m pregnant so I feel great, eh. No drinking for me. He (the guy with her who seemed barely conscious) wants some coffee real bad, so he came along. Sorry for takin’ so long here, but I got a mess of coffee to get for the other guys back at the campground.”
“Oh that’s OK, I’m in no rush,” I said, knowing I was on the road so early that I could face the day without a timeline.
As I waited, I was placing them in the you-piss-me-off category when the girl blind-sided me.
“Here,” she said giving some money to the Tim’s person serving the coffee, “this is for a coffee for this guy for makin’ him wait. Serve him first, eh.”
I stalled, as it took me a second to take in what she had done. “Thank you very much” I mumbled, “That was nice of you.”
‘Ah, that’s OK. We’re makin’ you wait too long.”
I guess you never know what’s inside anyone until they get a chance to show it. I couldn’t help thinking that this young woman’s parents did something right.