….That particular trip to the wet coast was a bust. Don’t really know why I went. We stayed with Timmy at Mrs Redfern for a while but I soon left, never to return to that abode ever again. I do know that I decided to drive back by myself, late September. O’Grunts stayed out there for a short while returning on his own at a later date. It was raining hard, of course. The rain then turned into snow, which morphed into a blizzard just as I was heading into the mountain passes. Surviving on nicotine I drove for hours through that blinding blizzard. Finally, after what seemed an eternity I could take no more. I had to stop so I parked the car outside of a flop house on the main drag of a small mountain town where I stayed the night. In the morning I couldn’t find my car as it was under about 6 feet of snow. Finding it then digging out, I headed east through the foothills and into the western prairie landscape where my car broke down just outside of a small prairie town due to a faulty voltage regulator. It was about 20 below zero. First week of October! Yikes.
It took about five days to fix that car as they had to order the part from back east. On my way again I picked up a hitchhiker on the outskirts of another prairie town who I had hoped would be able to share in the driving. That was fine except he didn’t quite grasp the finer points of driving, no licence per se, as I found out the hard way in a multi-circular spinout while he was driving that almost killed us. Shaken and stirred but recovering from the shock I drove the rest of the way dropping this lad off somewhere in the northern expanses of the wilderness at a highway crossroad. It was in the same area of trees and lakes, and trees and lakes with more trees and more lakes. Finally, I arrived home and back to the normal grind of a normal living with a normal career and a resume worthy job cleaning out subway cars in the subway yard at night, which was located just down the road from a local Subway sandwich shop. Serendipity do dah!
We cleaned these cars at night, 11 pm till 7am. Four cars from top to bottom. Four, as it took almost the entire shift for two of us to make these cars shine. Four per day, 20 per week, 80 plus cars per month. Funny what goes through one’s mind when employed in such a mind numbing career enhancing occupation such as this. But the pay was good for the time.
My partner in this endeavour was a young man from India. He was probably in his mid to late twenties, and considered himself upper class within the stringency of the Indian caste system. Why he stooped so low as to work here, or live here, was beyond my comprehension given his arrogance and holier than thou attitude and superiority complex. Yet he conveyed to me a disclosure that I would not soon forget. In my mindless Catholic indoctrinated but naive mind I perceived India, Pakistan, Bangladesh as extreme poverty stricken nations. They needed our help, our financial largess and our compassion. Yes, he agreed, they had their social ills and problems that were for the most part insurmountable. But he and his kind couldn’t have cared less. The Indian aristocracy, middle classes, governing cadre, the caste system couldn’t give a rat’s ass as to the societal plight of the majority of their countrymen. The peasants were just that, peasants; peons who were lower than the lowest on their social ladder. They were for the most part dirt, vermin, scum, societal scabs, the great Indian unwashed, to be avoided at all costs.
Worse than the Catholics in this shit city of ours? I thought to myself
I was shocked at this admission. But he just laughed it off and told me that western countries such as mine and other western nations were being duped by the rhetoric of the United Nations. For the most part they were ill informed, idiotic, and delusional to think that our collective good will was being directed to where it was needed the most. All of that money and foreign aid coming into the country to help the poor was being siphoned off for other things. It had to be that way because the biggest threat to the survival and longevity of the Indian, Pakistani, Bangladesh caste system was compassion.
“Yeah, but what about that lady on TV?” I asked him. “You know the one wearing the brown army uniform, Unitarian Church of Canada I believe, asking, no pleading, for donations to alleviate the wretchedness of the slums in Calcutta”
“A huge scam.” he said “But keep on giving because we sure as hell won’t! In fact our government doesn’t have to do anything but keep the illusion alive in countries such as yours.” It’s a business this poverty thing.
That was that. Wow. All that talk about the poor over in India! Just talk? Or the starving people of Bangladesh? Just talk? Was I growing up or was I being conned by this disgruntled immigrant of Indian migration? Was this the beginning of my indoctrination to adulthood, real life and all the cynicism that goes with it? Or was this the slow but steadfast erosion of my innocence? The end of my sunny ways? Don’t know but a scary, uncomfortable feeling nevertheless.