I have been going through my old diaries and came upon a bus trip I took from McBride, down to Vancouver Island in 1980. After breaking my right wrist in an industrial accident while working at a very unsafe mill that made cedar rails and posts, I was laid up at home. Since I was right handed and had a cast on my right hand, and that it was February with snow covering the ground, there wasn’t a whole lot I could do at home, so I decided to take a trip down to the Lower Mainland to visit some friends and relatives.
The bus ride down to Vancouver was an interesting experience due to the people I met. When the bus got down to Blue River, a group of CN (Canadian National Railway) workers got on. I talked to one of them for a bit, when he asked me if I wanted to join them in a “party” in the back of the bus, and smoke a joint. I thanked him for the offer, but told him I had better decline.
A bit later at Cache Creek, the seat next to mine was filled with a guy who was eager to tell me all about the wood-burning car he was going to build.
When I off at Abbotsford, to meet my friend Earl, I didn’t even recognize him: He had shaved off the beard he had sported the whole time he was in McBride. Unfortunately, Earl had just come down with the flu and was feeling pretty rocky, but he did take me to a bank and the library. That much pretty much wiped Earl out, so he had to take a nap when we got to his apartment. I walked to explore the nearby mall, while he slept.
The following day, Earl was in even worse shape, so I felt that instead of being a further burden to him, I would travel on to Victoria, so he could just rest. As I walked to the bus station, I was approached by a man all draped in banners and carrying a flag about Jesus. He asked me if I was hungry and when I replied, “No” he walked on. I wished I could have taken a picture of him.
Once back on the bus, the seat next to me was occupied by a lady from Austria and we talked all the way to Vancouver. She lived on a hobby farm and had a son and a daughter. She told me that she wished she had never had any children because they were too much trouble and never turned out the way you wanted. I found it interesting that she would reveal her secret feelings to me, a stranger on the bus, but I guess she felt safe to “unload” on me, knowing she would never see me again.
After reading about those experiences on the bus in 1980, I couldn’t help but think about how much things had changed. For one thing, Greyhound buses have disappeared and no longer have any routes through BC. Another big change was talking to other passengers. If I got on a bus now, I bet everyone would be isolating themselves, sitting there with their eyes locked onto their cell phones or computers. I don’t think there would be much interaction between passengers these days.
You can view my paintings at: davidmarchant2.ca