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The Hitchhiker Man: Chapter Two

Sudbury, Ontario.

“The more you have, the more you are afraid to lose.”

One year earlier in the summer of 2007, I had been living an average Canadian life in Sudbury, a city four hours north of Toronto. I had just graduated from Laurentian university with honours in economics and I was full of potential, drive, and determination. I had even applied for a Master’s program in Natural Resource Management. Success seemed like it was waiting just around the corner.

But when a rejection letter arrived in the mail one day, my only plan for the future vanished. I considered getting a job in my field of economics, but the idea of sitting in an office seemed dull and uninviting. I thought about continuing my studies. But what for? I wondered – another office job? More student debt? I had already spent twenty years of my life in school.

With no pressure on me to follow a certain path I spent my time enjoying the warm days of the summer while avoiding any real-life decisions. That is until one night when an unexpected plan for my future arrived. It was late into a night of drinking with my friend Ryan when he first mentioned his intention to hitchhike across Canada. I wondered how he could have devised such a foolish and risky plan. I didn’t know a single person who had hitchhiked before and I realised that my knowledge of it was limited to what I had seen on the news. I had never picked up a hitchhiker either, as I thought the risks were too great.

The next morning I woke up with a splitting headache and a blurred memory of the night before. For some reason I felt uneasy about something. I thought long and hard until I realised that I had agreed to go hitchhiking across Canada with Ryan.

Thankfully I also remembered that the person Ryan had originally planned to go on the trip with had just bailed, so I knew it wouldn’t be a big deal when I told him that I wasn’t going to go either. When I finally crawled out of bed, my life seemed to be fully in order again.

With each day that passed I thought of telling Ryan that I wasn’t going to go on the trip with him. But each time I was about to visit or call with my decision I was forced to consider my alternatives. I had always wondered what the rest of Canada looked like, so naturally I wondered about where Ryan would go and what he would see.

I had always thought that travelling was expensive, but for the first time in my life it seemed as if it was within my grasp. I stared at the walls of my room covered in pictures of beautiful and exciting places – beaches, mountains, the tropics, and rain forests. All the places I dreamed of visiting one day and part of the reason I worked so hard in university.

The more I tried to talk myself out of the trip, the more reasons I found to go. Hitchhiking seemed like a way to make my dreams of travelling come true. With plenty of common sense, perhaps it could even be safe. I asked my friends what they thought of the adventure, but to my dismay they all thought it was a terrible idea. And I could understand why since I thought the same thing they did. It made me wonder how anybody could have a valid opinion on something they had never experienced. But I knew that I was no different from them, since I also spent my life formulating my own inexperienced opinions. It seemed as if the only way to know what would happen on the road was to travel that road. After contemplating it for some time I finally decided I was going to take the chance.

Chapter three will be posted next week or click the book link to get the whole book on amazon. 

Top Photo By Cole Keister