Canada, Part Three
“I think I need to sleep for a bit,” John said as he tugged a bit at the wheel.
John took the next exit, pulled into a Petro station and handed me the key. John moved our belongings from the back seat to the front as the Chariot pumped with fuel. By the time he was finished, I couldn’t get into the glove compartment even if I wanted to. John’s pack was pinned between the seat and the dash as well as my laptop case and sleeping bag. But he had room to lay down and that was all that mattered.
“Wake me up when we reach Edmonston, okay? Shouldn’t take more than two hours.”
I shoved the Chariot into first and John was asleep before we even left the parking lot. He’d been awake for the last 20 hours.
Although the car didn’t have a working stereo, we’d managed to create one using John’s discman and a pair of computer speakers. I popped John Mayer’s latest in and sung along everso quietly, careful not to wake the sleeping babe behind me.
The roads had cleared since Luke and I had driven them. No snow to dodge. The snow banks themselves had shrunk a good one or two feet. It was smooth traveling all through New Brunswick. John snored, but hardly moved otherwise. Once again, my mind wandered over conversations and events from the past few days. Like when Sarah and Trish sat across from me at lunch and I suggested we play the “What Do You Want to Know About Ryan?” game. Or when I bought a bobblehead monkey for a loonie to put in John’s car. Or the night I couldn’t sleep, so I wrote a song with Diana’s guitar.
Out of the corner of my eye, I spotted a car sitting in the shadows of the highway shoulder. I figured it was a patrol car and checked the spedometer. The speed limit was 110 klicks and I was doing 100, so I figured I was fine. As I passed the vehicle, I checked the rearview mirror and saw the headlights flip on. I stared as the police car pulled into the lane behind me. He was quickly on my tail.
We were about 20 kilometers from Edmonston. So very close, but it looked like this cop was going to pull me over. I started to panic a bit and decided to wake John.
“John…” I waited. He didn’t respond. “John?” Again, he didn’t say anything. “John, I need you to wake up. John?”
In the mirror, I saw the silhouette of John’s head shake a little. “Huh?”
“John, there’s a cop riding me. I think we’re going to get pulled over.”
John looked behind him, “Are you doing the speed limit?”
“I think so. It’s 110 in here.”
“Take it down to 95, just in case.”
My cheeks started to burn. I grasped the wheel and prayed to God. The cop continued to follow closely for about three klicks and then he flipped his lights.
“It’s okay,” John assured me. “Just get over to the shoulder.”
Having never been pulled over before, I wasn’t sure what the right thing to do was. I was a foreigner driving a car that didn’t belong to me. I was scared and pulled into the shoulder a little too anxiously.
“Easy! Easy, Car…” John said.
“Sorry,” I blurted.
“It’s okay. Now turn the emergency blinkers on,” John instructed. “Turn the engine off. And the lights. Put the emergency break on. And roll your window down. Keep your hands on the wheel.” He was so calm about it.
I looked to my left and found myself staring at a uniform.
“Good evening,” the officer said. “How you doin’ tonight?’
“You guys are far from home. Where you coming from?”
“Sussex,” I replied.
“Where you going?”
“Back home,” John answered. “To Ottawa.”
The officer looked at me. “This your car?”
“No,” I shook my head. “It’s his.”
“It’s mine,” John reiterated.
“Alrighty. Can I see your license, registration and proof of insurance?” The officer was really nice and I wondered why he had pulled us over.
However, other than my driver’s license, the other documents were located in the glove compartment, which was inaccessible at that moment. I handed my license to the officer.
“Washington? You’re American?”
“Yes, sir, I am.”
Now he was really curious. “Well, Carly Bishop, what are you doing way out here, so far from home?”
“Well,” I thought of a response. I wanted it to be really good. “I was visiting John in Ottawa and we both have friends going to Bible College in Sussex and we thought it’d be fun to road trip over there.”
“Wow,” the man shrugged. “Well, let me just run this through. Don’t worry about the other stuff. I’ll just check the plates. I’ll be back.”
John and I waited. My nerves started to relax and John explained that I probably hadn’t done anything wrong. The policeman was probably only curious as to why a 20-year-old blonde chick was driving a car at 1:45 in the morning with plates from Ontario.
“I think I’d pull you over too,” John said.
Soon, the officer returned, handed me my license and smiled, “Everything checks out! Have a safe trip home, guys!”
We thanked him and I could feel myself breathe again. I started the car and told John to go back to sleep.
“I can’t sleep now,” he said. “I’ll be fine. I’m just going to have my wake-up cigarette.”
“Well, we’re almost to Edmonston anyway,” I said.
I watched John’s face glow in the light of his Zippo. He cracked his window and exhaled. I remember thinking at that moment that this wonderful and occasionally obnoxious Canadian had been one of my best friends for more than a year and I was overwhelmed with gratitude for who he was. And how he’d changed my life. Yes, John, for the better…
Eventually, I was back in the passenger seat. John took charge and drove the remaining ten hours back. We had a lot of time to talk, mostly debating on whether or not I should sleep. It came down to John forcing a pillow under my head and telling me, “Sleep.” I drifted off for a short while and apparently, my talking didn’t cease even then. John and I carried on a conversation, unbeknownst to me, about how I wanted him to sing the song I wrote. I woke up and we soon realized what had just transpired. John laughed, “I was wondering why your eyes were rolled up in the back of your head.”
We discussed other things. Like my time at Bethany and how John would like to be a police officer one day. For nearly two hours, John and I mulled over how I can be alive and eat like I do.
“You eat like a canary!” he shouted.
I laughed hard. “A canary?!”
“A sick one! You don’t eat anything!” It obviously frustrated him. John cooks a lot and enjoys eating often. “Like that night at the buffet! One flipping plate? One?!”
“I got full!”
“After one plate?!” I laughed at John’s vigor. He sighed, “No… No… Okay. Here’s the deal…” And I listened as John explained human function, using every analogy he knew would work and basically driving it home. John is the type of person who knows a little or infinite amount of everything. He always asks “Why?” and refuses to believe something just because “so-and-so said so.” He doesn’t back down and he doesn’t take crap, but every now and then, he will say when he is wrong. He has the kind of passion I don’t see in most; it’s the kind that’s infectious.
It was a great time. The sun rose, revealing a beautiful clear sky over Quebec. John would light a cigarette every other hour and I knew it was because he was tired. I would have driven but he’s wierd.
We stopped briefly for a cat nap shortly after dawn. Then we spent another hour in Quebec eating breakfast at a Canadian restaurant called “Harvey’s”. They wouldn’t take my Visa card, so I had to run to find an ATM. I ended up finding a drive-thru ATM machine and had to crouch low to the ground as to enter my pin and remove the cash. By the time I got back to the restaurant, I was fully awake. The run through the morning cold was exactly what I needed.
I’m still not over how much I enjoy being in a place where the main language is not English. John and I sat at a table and I listened to two older ladies chat. I pulled out two distinct words: “francais” and “anglais”. I turned to look at them and one of them pointed at me. The other nodded and met my stare. They both laughed, a tad mockingly. Reluctantly, I returned to my pancakes. For some reason, I enjoyed the fact they probably didn’t like me because I spoke English. Because I’d never experienced that feeling before.
We made it back to John’s house, exhausted from the trip. I’d spent the last 12 to 14 hours one-on-one with my great friend. I watched him go through an entire pack of Canadian Classics and he watched me as I fought to stay awake the whole time. That trek from New Brunswick back to Ontario was impactful. At least on me.
It’s the reason I haven’t had a Diet Coke since, and those who know me will be in shock. But it’s true. I haven’t.
Makes you wonder, doesn’t it? Who is this John Jetchick who can even make Carly stop drinking poison?! You will never know…
To be continued… (No, I don’t know how many “Parts” there are. A lot.)
Photo Album Two.