All You Need Is Thumbs - Part 1
Thursday, January 22, 20150 Comments
By Zoey Ross
I was officially a theatre school drop. My rent was paid until the end of August, but there was only 37 dollars left in my bank account and that money was for my sponsored daughter in Sudan. There were no jobs in North Bay, Ontario. The recession killed them all.
I needed to make a change, so I did the only thing that made sense. At 12 PM on a Sunday, I decided I was going to hitchhike across the country.
Although hitchhiking is not explicitly illegal, there are still restrictions and taboos to be aware of. Most importantly, no matter how great your intuition or whether you are a man or women, it can easily be dangerous.
I was living alone in a student town house my roommates had all left for summer break. I packed everything I thought I would need in my backpack and side bag - by one o’clock I was ready as I could be. At least that’s what I thought. I knocked on my neighbor’s door and told him I was hitching to BC. His answer was a simple but confused, "O.K." and with that, I began what might possibly be the longest walk across North Bay.
West. I need to keep walking west, down Lake Shore and past the university to find the edge of town. Every step came with fearful second thoughts. What will my family think when they find out I’m gone? What if people think I’m crazy? What if… what if I get taken advantage of sexually?
I was scared and running on pure anxiety. This was not light and it was not facetious. These were my actual fears. To this day, people ask if there was any unwanted sexual misadventure along the way. I think the problem is that some people ask comically. I’ll spare you this particular suspense and let you know I made it through the adventure unscathed in this regard.
Although, not everyone does and true horror stories do exist. Mine isn’t one of them.
When I look back, the signs are so clear that something was not right. It’s more than foolish to take off like I did. I had no regard for my family or anyone who cared about me. More importantly, I did not care about myself. This was the first real time and incident where depression and anxiety would manifest. This event would later be marked as the first documented, irrational choice made in a manic state.
As I walked, I decided my destination would be Tofino, on Vancouver Island, in British Columbia. They had surfing there and it way far west, so this made sense in my mind. I also remembered, that I had a distant step-grand uncle who lived in Sault St. Marie, a 7 hour car drive away, that would be my immediate goal.
I arrived at the mouth of the Trans-Canada Highway; where highway 11 turns west into 17. One kilometer from this point will be the furthest west I have ever been. I walked a bit from the lights and for the first time did what cinema trained me to do and stuck out my thumb. Within 5 minutes a dirty old brown sedan pulled over several meters ahead of me.
This was it, the first ride of many, no turning back. A short jog and I was at the passenger door. He opened the window and all I could smell was the dank familiar aroma of cigarette smoke. He asked where I was going and with a worried smile I said, “I’m heading west.”
Zoey Ross is a writer and adventure from central Ontario. Ross has been to over 20 countries and filmed in them all. He's worked as an international video producer and as a dude at Tim Hortons (for 3 and a half hours). Now he's at the University Guelph taking polysci, writing for every organization that wants his words and is seeking adventure. Some of his interest include celebrity interviews, video games, exploration and good cocktails. Follow him on twitter @mrzoeyross or check out his blog Who the F is The Man named Zoey.