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My Thoughts XVIII: Hitchhikers and Karma

Updated on September 12, 2019
Just a road. I like walking and I like roads.
Just a road. I like walking and I like roads. | Source

For the Labor Day weekend (first Monday of September), I drove-up to Nipissing First Nations, for their 30th annual traditional Pow-wow. Heading-out of the city on a long week-end, by myself I just knew I would see some hitchhikers along the way and I made the decision even before leaving the driveway, to stop and give a lift to those stuck walking on the side of the highway, or standing-out there with their thumb raised.

My Intuition did not fail me and not far along the way, I flew-by a guy walking with a big backpack along the shoulder of the highway. I was going way too fast (not faster than the speed limit, of course Mr. Officer, haha!!). And since buddy was neither standing, nor did he have a thumb raised-up, I thought he might just be a weird guy like me, hiking along the highway without wanting to be picked-up (which I have done before). Either way, I missed him and kept driving, telling myself to me more careful and certainly stop for the next one.

The next hitchhiker never popped-up before I reached the Pow-wow grounds in Sturgeon Falls. I had to go to Sturgeon Falls because the Pow-wow was changed this year due to flooding on the regular Pow-wow grounds and was not at Jacko Point, where it usually is. I was lucky enough for someone to tell me all this when I stopped for gas at the Eagle Gas Station, just outside of North Bay. So, with the Pow-wow going, re-uniting with acquaintances and friends, I forgot all about the hitchhikers.

I spent the weekend there, camping-out and having an incredible time! I actually was sitting down with a friend in one of those moments of complete, comfortable silence (between the two of us) when I caught myself thinking: when people are going to ask me how the week-end was, on my return to the city, I’m going to say: “it was just simply perfect!” I laughed and told him what I was thinking and he agreed that it was going to be a fabulous weekend. And in the end it was indeed simply perfect. Couldn’t ask for anything more because it was way better than I could have even imagined.

Now, on the way back, the issue of hitchhikers was old news. With so much having gone on at the Pow-wow, I forgot all about me wanting to stop and give people a lift along the highway but at one point, on the outskirts of North Bay, my vision caught the form of a silhouette on the right shoulder of the highway, far ahead. I focused on that and as I was approaching quite fast I realized that there was a man standing, with his right hand-out and his thumb upwards. There was my hitchhiker! In an instance I applied the brakes, signaled to pull over and I still flew by him but managed to stop not too far off. I got out of the car to clear some things away so the man had space to sit in the front and I saw him lightly running towards the car.

“Hey, how You doin’? How far You going”, I asked when he approached.

“Ohh, just down the road to the Bingo Hall, about ten minutes”, came the answer.

Since he was close to me by then, I caught a sniff of alcohol off his breath and he also had a speech impediment: he stuttered when speaking. Yet, I was not fully sure if it was speech impairment, or an alcohol impairment which prevented him from speaking clearly. Either way, we exchanged names, on the shoulder of the highway and as he was getting in the car, he said:

“Don’t worry, I’m not gonna kill You.”

Haha!! I have picked-up hitchhikers before but never have I got the: “don’t worry I’m not gonna kill You”, greeting. In a flash of a second I thought I’d show him my KABAR United States Marine Core knife, which is always within reach when I am up-north but on a second thought, I decided not to. Pulling out a black, seven inch long blade, which really is an instrument of death as much as it is a tool, might not have been the best idea. I wanted to help-out by giving a lift, not having a man run away from me down the highway, screaming for help. So, I responded by saying:

“If You kill me, that would mean I have bad karma.”

I sensed no ill intent from the man who was most likely in his late 50s or early 60s and as I got in the driver’s seat, he started telling me how his wife left him “stranded at home” and he decided to hitch-hike to go to the Bingo Hall where she was at. At that point, it became clear that he had a speech impediment and that he was quite drunk at the same time. His breath reeked and since I do not drink the fire-water (alcohol) I can smell it very easily off of people.

The man was quite chatty and he kept me busy with answers about where I’m from, what I do and all sorts of other questions. I should mention at this point, that when we started driving-off, I told him to let me know where we were going because if he did not give me directions, he would end-up in Toronto with me and not at the Bingo Hall in North Bay. Did he listen? No.

At one point he raised his hands up exclaiming:

“Ohh fuck!! We passed it … It’s because we’re having too much fun.”

Haha!! Ohh goodness … I was speechless. Actually, I still don’t know what to say about that. I just did a U-turn at the first intersection and headed back the way we came, telling him to pay attention so we don’t end-up going back to Sturgeon Falls. I did not allow a chance for any more mistakes though. At every intersection I asked him if I should keep going straight, or if I needed to make a turn. This way, we eventually ended-up at the Bingo Hall, where I wished him good luck and I took off.

I knew my karma is not bad enough for anyone to kill me intentionally. I fixed most of it I’d say. I do certainly believe that “what goes around comes around”. That’s what karma means for me and I have had clear experiences where I have acted like a dick and it backfired almost immediately. So, I say that I have nearly “instant karma”. I do not believe in the past life karma stuff. Those are negative predictions in my opinion and since they do not help, nor do I have any reason to validate them, I do not listen to them. But karma from the course of my life, that’s very real! I’ve lived it.

So, I will be back on the road next weekend, heading to Curve Lake First Nations annual traditional Pow-wow. There will be no picking-up of hitchhikers this time, as I will have two nephews with me in the little VW Golf and we can’t sardine too many people in it with all the camping equipment too. Yet, I do encourage people to use their thumb and hitch-hike if needed because You never know when Two-tents (my new acquired “Indian Name” from an Elder) is passing-by and he’ll be able to give You a lift. Cheers!

All the best to everyone!

The Nipissing First Nation & Peoples: History, Culture & Celebrations


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