A farewell to the good life: Part 1

Page 1 So I initially wrote the last entry whilst I was "working" on Friday night. And I didn't finally decide what it was I was going to be doing with my 4 days off, until it came to going to bed on Saturday. It was just I had to decide then because I needed to know whether to set an alarm or not.

Incidentally, the night-skiing on Saturday night was the first one that I've known of, where we actually had some of the company's big bosses come skiing. So lucky for me I wasn't writing, or on my laptop, or inhaling the emergency oxygen or anything like that. What did happen, though, is that for the first time since I've been here, we have guests decide that they want to go skiing in their underwear. And they get off the lift at the top, where I am, ski off a little bit, & I can just see them through the trees getting their kit off. 4 guys, 2 girls. And before you ask, the girls were better to look at than a boring chairlift. But only just. They were nothing special. This was all well & good. I don't give a fuck what people wear when they're out skiing. And I'm the king of turning a blind eye to stuff. Because who needs the hassle, right? The only problem this time, was that there were a couple of guys skiing about right now, each with the authority to fire me on the spot. And what the fuck is company policy on scantily-clad skiing? I don't know. Do you know? So I just left them to it. They weren't on the lift at the time so I figure it's not my problem. Right? Who knows.

One thing I've learnt this Winter, is that skiing isn't an especially cold sport. You're moving about a lot, expending a bit of energy. On some of the more mogully runs, I can come up dripping of sweat. No, skiing isn't so cold. Chairlifts on the other hand, now they're fucking cold. You're sat there. You aren't moving. You're elevated into the air so you aren't really protected from the wind so well. I think these underwear skiiers found that out the hard way. The Toby chair might be a short lift. But it's old & slow. It takes a good 5 minutes. Those were some pretty cold looking people, I can tell you. I didn't pay too much attention to the guys. But even without the shivering, & the "Fuuuck, it's cold", it doesn't take much imagination to know how I know the girls were cold. See. That's karma. For possibly getting me in shit with the top management.

After the fun of night-skiing there, I had to make a choice before I went to bed. 4 days off. Alarm, or no alarm? I went alarm. 4 days off! Do I really want to spend that sat around Invermere? Alarm. It might be a day off, but I was still getting up at 7. The bus wasn't until 10:25. But I hadn't packed, obviously. I needed to get to the ATM so I'd hopefully actually be allowed on the bus. So to play it safe, I was up at 07:00.

The bus was supposed to arrive at the bus stop at 10:25. I got there by 10:15. I say bus stop. There's nothing there to indicate it's actually a stop. It's just, kind of an agreed piece of dirt where people get picked up from. The same piece of dirt that I got dropped off at when I arrived in Invermere. Outside a snowboard shop. Ever since I found out Page 2 that I had these 4 days off, I've been speaking to various people about getting out of town. And there is even a seldom-heard rumour going about that buses don't stop in Invermere anymore. You have to make your way to the next town, just to catch a damn bus. So it was a relief on my arrival at the agreed dirt, that there was a girl sat on the ground outside the snowboard shop. I talk to her, & she too is waiting for the bus & going to Calgary. So I sit on the ground next to her, & we wait for the bus.

10:25 comes. And 10:25 goes. 10:35 comes. And 10:35 goes. 10:45 comes. And 10:45 goes. And here we are still sat on the ground, outside the snowboard shop. Finally at around 10:55 a bus drives towards where we are sitting. It's not marked as a Greyhound. But not all of them are. Instead of pulling up into the agreed dirt, though, this bus drives straight past us. Instead it turns into the Petro Canada, 100 yards up the road. We're kind of looking at each other. "Was that the Greyhound?" I ask this girl if she'd heard about buses no longer stopping in Invermere. So she goes into the snowboard shop to ask. They just point her to a very small, very unobvious sign, that has been posted on the door. I can't remember the exact wording of it. I don't even know that I stopped to read the exact wording of it. The jist, though, was that buses no longer stopped in Invermere. Instead you had to go to the bus stop in the next town. In Windermere. However when I'd phoned up the Greyhound hotline last night, a recording had told me that the buses went from the Petro Canada that this bus had just pulled into. I was assuming still that no one had bothered to actually change this recording. Afterall, if so few people take the bus to/from Invermere that they are removing the agreed dirt from service, then why would they bother to change the recording? But despite that, we ran over to the Petro Canada, just on the off-chance that this unmarked bus, was in fact the Greyhound. Maybe it'd driven into Invermere to refuel.

We talk to the driver. "Is this the Greyhound?" we ask him. He just kind of looks at us as though we're idiots. "This is a charter bus." So no luck so far. In one final attempt to find out if we can actually catch a bus out of Invermere today, we go into the Petro Cnaada to see if they can help us. They've seen a Greyhound go by everyday until now. And they haven't heard about Greyhound's no longer stopping in Invermere. Being unnecessarily helpful, though, they phone the bus station in Windermere for us. And the girl who makes the call gets told exactly what we don't want to hear. Buses no longer stop in Invermere. Fucking great. 1 bus per day. And we're already over ½ an hour late to catch it, & we aren't even in the right town. I guess we aren't catching the bus to Calgary on this day. This girl I'm with; she just gives up. She's dejected, & borrows this gas stations phone to call her boyfriend & tell him she's not going to Calgary. Me on the other hand, I just see this as a minor set-back. "Ah well," I say. "I guess I'm hitching to Calgary." I bid farewell to this girl I've met. I thank the gas station for their help. And I pick up my backpack & start off up the hill out of town.

There's one minor problem with me hitching to Calgary. I don't know where the fuck Page 3 it is. It's Alberta. I'm currenly in BC, so a logical assumption is it's East. But seeing as I neglected to pack my compass, East really doesn't help much to me. I'm walking up out of Invermere in the hope I'll catch some main road. And seeing as there aren't too many cities around here, I'm hoping that out of the cars/trucks going past me, a high percentage will be on the way to Calgary. The dilemma I have, is do I want to be hitching on my left? Or on my right? Get that wrong, & I could spend all day hitching in the wrong direction. The way that I'm seeing things though, is Calgary is only about a 3½-4 hour drive to the best of my knowledge. So it may take all day. But I should be able to make it. Eventually.

Anyway, I'm walking on the side of the road out of town. It's an uphill on the way out, & I'm carrying a backpack, so it's quite hard work. But eventually I'm getting to the top of the hill, building up a bit of a sweat. And as I'm getting to the top, I'll give you 3 guesses to what comes speeding in the other direction. Round the corner comes a fucking Greyhound bus. Jaw open, I just stare at it, mystified as it drives past me. And in the next split-second, so many questions run through my mind. If I run will I catch it? Is this the bus I want? Will he even let me on without a ticket? Do I really want to have to walk all the way up this hill again? Will he actually stop, there's no one there waiting now?

I'd made peace with the fact that I was hiching to Calgary today. Was I really going to go back down the hill? All of that went through my mind over the course of a second, before I was off running. Large backpack & all, I was sprinting back down the hill I'd just sweat to walk up. The whole time, my eyes trained on this Greyhound bus ahead of me. I see him pull into the Petro Canada. "Thank fuck!" I'm thinking. He needs to refuel. But then he drives straight past the pumps, & out of view behind the building. He was probably only out of view for 5 seconds. That was one long 5 seconds though. I see the front of the bus pull-up from behind the gas station, & it stops with it's nose poking out. Still running, the driver gets out & goes into the service station. This gives me the time I need to catch up with him, & I arrive just as he's leaving the shop.

Out of breath, I say "Is this the bus to Calgary?" He kind of looks at me as if I'd asked whether we were in Canada or not. "Yes..." he replies to me. "Do you have a ticket?" he asks me. He lets me on, but doesn't let me put my pack underneath. He asks for some ID as assurance I'm going to buy a ticket, but before I've even had the time to open my bag, he's waved me on. Apparently we're running late. Really.

Well seeing as there wasn't the time to put my bag under the bus, I have it sat on the seat next to me like it was my girl. And on the seat behind me is one of the validators from work, also tired of the same monotonous small-town routine, & off to Banff for a couple of nights (I think it was Banff. Somewhere near Banff Page 4 anyway). Incidentally, the girl who I was sat outside the snowboard shop for over 30 minutes with; she never reappeared. I guess she didn't see the bus coming.

After all of that, come the next time I need to leave town, I'm still none the wiser. Do buses stop in Invermere or not? I still haven't got a fucking clue.

After all of that, I wanted to relax for the journey. But I had my large bag beside me now, which was a little distracting for a few reasons. Apart from anything else, it meant I couldn't stretch out properly. It meant I had more stuff to look after. But most of all, it took up a whole seat. So I was just waiting for the bus to get busy enough, that I was going to have it sat on my knee.

The first stop that we had was Radium. Here I was able to buy my ticket. And despite being in this supposed rush, we got a 5 minute break. During this time, I actually went up to the driver, some weird little Asian man; barely spoke English, & asked him if I could put my bag underneath. He actually said no. Apparently it wasn't busy enough yet, that I needed to. I was enjoying talking to this validator. But seeing as I wasn't allowed to put my backpack under the bus, I moved away from her so that I could now have 2 double seats. One for me, one for my bag. I'm not even sure she realised this. She might even have thought I was moving away from her. So because of this retarded driver, I'm going to have to rebuild some bridges once I get back to work. Eventually, though, after a pretty long morning, I was on my way to Calgary.

This journey was really something special. If you've never been through the Rocky Mountains, it really should be on everyone's lifetime to do list. It's not my first time, but I was still scunnered by the scenery. I don't think the English language can do justice to such views. Nor can photographs taken from a bus window. So I won't taint what I saw with either. All I can say, is it's worth it for the journey. If I'd just gone straight to Calgary & back on the same day, it would have been worth it. The way the clouds were laying as we drove between mountains, I remember thinking that the most appropriate word to describe this view, was mystical. It was like something out of Final Fantasy.

Just this part of the trip; it was a break from my normal routine. It was a bus, & it didn't go to Pano. It didn't drive the same road that I admit, once fascinated me. Having seen that journey about 100 times though, to be on a bus going somewhere different, anywhere different, was a breath of fresh air. The fact that it went through something of a fantastical paradise, I felt like I was being set free. I was breaking out of the same daily routine I've been in since I started working. Any my view on routine, is that it clouds your vision. It clouds your thinking. You get so clouded and obsessed with doing things the same way, that you neglect to do things the best way. The most logical way. And since I've Page 5 been working in Invermere, I've been so stuck in the same old routine, that I've forgotten to attend to the issues that matter to me. What you could say, is that I've been living the easy life. The good life. I've been eating the foods that taste good, rather than those I should be eating to live a healthier lifestyle. I haven't been getting to the gym because I'm "too tired" after work, instead choosing to spend my nights in front of the TV. And worst of all, I'm relying on drugs to get me through my day. I take caffeine supplements in the form of Coca-cola, to bring me up in the morning. I take alcohol supplements in the form of beer to bring me down at night. How long ago was it that I wrote the blog 'This is London!!!'? 3 months perhaps. 4 maybe. I don't know exactly, I don't have my laptop on me. But I remember writing in that blog how it sickened me that people disliked their lives so much that they needed drugs to get throught their day. Yet 4 months later, here I am. Doing the exact same thing that 4 months ago, I was preaching against. Why? Because being lost in my daily routine, I've become weak. I've stopped doing the right thing, and started doing the easy thing.

In the past, I've been superhuman. My physical fitness. My mental drive. There've been time that I've just felt invincible. In such great physical & mental strength, that I just know I'm untouchable. So confident in my own abilities that at anytime... anytime that someone does something differently from me. That they disagree with me, then they're wrong. Because I've had my physical & mental prowess at such levels, there's just no way that I can be wrong. No way. My mind & body are so sharp, I'm just in a state where I feel untouchable. And it wasn't too long ago I felt like this.

Then I look at today. I lack the mental willpower to choose the gym over the TV. To choose the right foods over the fun foods. To rise without caffeine. To relax without alcohol. As much as it pains me to say it... I've become a regular person. And all it took for me to realise this, was to get out of my same daily routine for a couple of hours. To see different views, and hear different sounds, & my mind became stimulated.

Which brings me to the title of this blog. "A farewell to the good life." I finally have the clarity of thought to see where I'm going wrong. Now to do something about it. These 4 days, this holiday, if you will, are me saying goodbye to the easy life. Want to eat fast food in Calgary? Do it. Want to drink beer in Calgary? Do it. Because once I get back to Invermere, I'm getting back to the person that I should be. Not this lazy, drug-taking bum. But this disciplined, hard-nosed, machine. I want to be the person I should be. Not the person I am.

Incidentally, I was going to call this "Calgary: A farewell to the good life." But that would kind of give away too early that I made it to Calgary. Page 6 I'm hoping I don't need to explain "Part 1." This is already page 6 & I'm not even in Calgary yet.

I'm going to stop writing for a bit now. I have a sore hand. I'll write part 2 when I have a chance.

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