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Voices ᐋ ᐄᔮᔨᐧᒫᓂᐧᐃᒡ

Last mile

BY Sonny Orr Oct 13, 2022

It’s finally a relaxing day after nearly 2,000 kilometres guided by a global positioning device that made me go in circles a few times. The snake merging and the rapid pace of the local traffic made it a hard for the new guy in town, namely me. 

But my road rage didn’t surface too much as I am a hardened professional driver, especially after going through heavy rains, creating rapids on the ramps leading to another ramp and so on. I kind of wished that I had a steel-hulled jet boat at times. After settling down, we feasted in a fine dining room. Wolfing down entrees and plates of freshly made bread rolls that stopped my stomach from growling made me smile.

It was a gathering of the minds, to address tough stuff like trying to figure out the best way to approach businesses. We concluded that the nicest way isn’t always the best and found other great teambuilding ideas. 

A strategic plan was arising, soon to guide our overall way of doing business. After a few days of intensive thinking, the final teambuilder was learning how to play the bongo drums. I must admit that it was therapeutic and fun. After half an hour of united beats among 20 eager drummers, we finally managed to carry a tune, or at least a bit of rhythm.

Before the drive home, it was necessary to visit Mohawk country in search of American goods like chocolates and drinks. After finding that famous little store and driving through someone’s private property by mistake, the realization of the huge drive-by market that rumbles across the river from Montreal started kicking in my business-minded brain. 

I asked the friendly store owner if there was a place where I could get a good steak. Sure, just down the road a few hundred feet – my uncle’s place, he answered. Cool, so I tripped down the road for a few seconds and pulled into the driveway, where I got lost immediately but was thankfully saved by a valet. 

We went inside and were greeted with style. Wow, the Mohawks sure know how to make a nice restaurant, I thought. After being seated by our friendly server, we order meat and potatoes. A short while later, the meal arrives, perfectly grilled. Not a bone in sight and my stomach cried with happiness. A sweet tea later, since I needed all my wits about me as we headed off to the nearest mall for some late-night shopping.

Plunking down in the room later, I fell asleep immediately as an early-morning trip to the North awaited. It was back to coffee in take-out cups and standard scrambled eggs with the sausage du jour and toasted bagel before we headed north. 

At the final coffee stop, I reached for my cup, and something bit me hard in the palm of my hand. It was a small but defensive bee and now I know why it’s called stinging. The rest of the day was a one-handed driving test that lasted until sundown.

At last, the final night and we all pass out gratefully before starting again the next morning. The last leg, the one where I don’t have to drive as I lost my pilot’s license 30 years ago… but that’s another story.

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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.