A few weeks ago, I told you all about my impending trip, off the grid. I was going where there was very limited access to cell phone service and internet. This allowed my lovely wife and I to enjoy each other’s company without the distractions of work. So, now, with my wife and I safely home from our little adventure, I can tell you where we went. We went to the Yukon.
I can tell you that the major city, Whitehorse, has pretty much everything we have here. But outside of Whitehorse, life is much simpler, much more laid back and much more charming. We drove into small communities where the playgrounds were full of children. With no internet or cable television, kids actually went out to play. Walking up and down wooden sidewalks, people were stopping to exchange pleasantries and news. I saw more pedestrian traffic in little communities of a couple hundred than we do in our city of 65,000.
That got me to thinking, folks. For all of the advances we’ve made in technology and convenience… are we really better off? These people work hard, played harder, and appeared to be healthy and happy. No cyber-bullying, no outrage over President Trump’s latest ‘Tweets’, and a genuine feeling of community. You didn’t have to be a ‘local’ in order to have that feeling, either. Here is just one example of folks looking out for each other.
We were staying in a house with rooms for rent. Across the street was a bunkhouse. It was a simple building with about thirty rooms. Each room had only a lamp, a bed and a small desk. There was no television and if you had to go to the bathroom, you had to leave your room and go outside to the end of the building where there was a shared bathroom/shower. It was inhabited by miners, truckers, surveyors, and others that found themselves working far away from home. None of them local, yet all having a sense of belonging.
Because this little town was so quiet, I was able to hear clearly the conversations going on outside of the bunkhouse across the street. As I sipped my morning coffee, I listened in.
“So, I hear you had a rough day yesterday,” said the one man.
“Yeah, and it could have been a lot worse, but I’ll get through it all,” replied the other.
“What happened?” asked the first fella.
“Well, I was at the hotel a few blocks over having dinner in the restaurant, and a young guy with a boy, I’m guessing was his son, was going table to table asking for money. He said they’d been stranded for a few days, and he needed money to catch the bus back home. I felt for him and, being as he had his son with him, I offered to buy them dinner, so at least they wouldn’t be hungry. I also pulled out a hundred bucks to contribute towards their bus journey. I guess it’s my own fault I’m in this jam, because I must have left my wallet on the table when I went to the bathroom. When I got back to the table, they were gone. I didn’t think anything of it ‘til I went to pay my bill and realized that my wallet was missing. The folks at the hotel were very nice, saying don’t worry about the tab, just pay us when you can.
One of the folks at the hotel told me that the bus station was at the gas station. So I hopped in my truck and drove over, hoping I’d catch them. I asked the fella at the gas station if he’d seen them and he told me they had just left on a bus going to Whitehorse. He was surprised because, as far as he knew, they were stranded without any money, yet somehow they raised enough to hop the bus. When I told him that they were travelling on my money, he asked how much? I told him it was two weeks’ worth of spending money for gas and food, seven hundred, or so, and I couldn’t get any more ‘til next payday, which is still twelve days away. But you know what? As much as those thieves made me feel bad about helping them out, my faith was restored by other folks in that gas station. The guy running the place had his wife load up a couple of bags of groceries and told me they wouldn’t take any money for it. There was also another fella in the gas station that told them to add twenty bucks to his bill so that I could put twenty in my gas tank. Real, genuine, nice people, they were.”
When he was finished telling his story, the other fella said, “That’s pretty much how we heard it. Just thought I’d ask for confirmation from the horse’s mouth. Twelve days is a long time, and you’re gonna need a lot more gas and groceries, so we took up a collection around the bunkhouse last night. Here’s $500 to get you through until next payday.”
These people aren’t permanent neighbours, folks, yet through the simple environment they find themselves working in, they are community…even if for a short period of time. Isn’t that how it should be everywhere?