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Curly-haired pandemonium

BY Sonny Orr Jul 3, 2024

Splat! Another large moth collides with my windshield as I cruise down the Billy Diamond Highway. I activate my windshield wipers and they distribute the dead insect around, adding another layer of slime to the already well-smeared glass. 

I pump on the wiper stalk only discover there’s no more cleaning fluid left. With my vision of the road severely impaired, I stop and look for any liquids to throw onto the windshield. I find one of my hydrating drinks and splash it on the wipers and lo and behold, it cleans off the grime. Hmmm, I think, I’ve accidently discovered a new solution that might take the world by a storm. Will it clean out my guts, too?

A few hundred kilometres later, I’m in Matagami. Thankfully, I could scrape everything off my windshield at a closed gas station and then continue to my destination. Halfway to Rouyn, I finally come across a gas station and buy some fluids and gas, and head to the hotel where I check in at 3:30 in the morning. 

The dozing hotel clerk stirs, then jumps up and hands me my room key. In the room, I literally crawl into my bed. Sleep comes instantly and so, it seems, does the alarm I set – as if my sleep lasted only a few seconds. I shower off the fatigue and notice that my hair has curled up into an impossible mess. Oho, I say to myself, there’s some bad weather coming.

My hair has always acted like a natural barometer, warning me of upcoming weather patterns. It was an easy indicator – smooth straight hair meant nice weather and curly meant lousy weather. 

I head to the convention centre to find out I missed a super thunderstorm which affected the internet and electricity over a wide area. The conference continues without a hitch and after a nice banquet, I crawl back to my room and lie down. 

I wake up a few seconds later to find out that I’m late for breakfast. So, I grab a quick coffee to shake off the cobwebs around my eyes. 

Again, the conference continues without any mishaps or delays and I’m back to my normal self. This time I dress a little lighter as the temperature soars to unbearable heights (at least for me) and I thank the inventor of the air conditioner. 

I check on my vehicle, which hasn’t moved since I arrived, and air out the heat that has accumulated over the past 24 hours. The seat could have doubled as a barbeque, but I endure it long enough for the wind to blow the hot air out the windows. Once it’s cooled down, I head back to my room, where it’s comfortable enough to think and breathe. 

As I plan my return trip, I think of the conference. It focussed on logistics, of which I am a master. Often, I get labelled as a perfectionist traveller, but I know the woes of not being prepared. A simple thing like parking nearby can be a deal breaker. Can you imagine carrying loads of shopping several blocks to your vehicle while trying to wipe the sweat off your brow? Very difficult. 

Planning for travel may seem an ordinary thing. But when an entire conference is designed to improve logistics for a large company or organization, you know, it’s about controlled pandemonium. Yes, I am a master of logistics, but only when things go perfectly. And in the North, nothing ever does go the way you want it. 

Signing off from the middle of Abitibi storm country, I remain curly haired. 

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Sonny Orr is Cree from Chisasibi, and has been a columnist for the Nation for over 20 years. He regularly pens Rez Notes from the cozy social club in Whapmagoostui where he resides.