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Voices ᐋ ᐄᔮᔨᐧᒫᓂᐧᐃᒡ

Summer’s over and I’m still waiting

BY Sonny Orr Sep 12, 2021

This morning the radio was quietly playing some music that I recognized, just to prove how old I am. As “Wake Me up When September Ends” caused a knee-jerk reaction, I realized that August had slipped by in a haze of heat waves. It’s storm time now, as the people recently liberated from their homes to the south would have witnessed, with tornados popping up out of nowhere. Then Covid reared its ugly head once again and the fourth wave hit our communities. How? By travellers. 

So, as I sit here looking at my Adequate Protection status on the only passport under my name implies, I’m thinking it’s barely adequate to travel to one safe spot to another or get into a bar or restaurant. The rest of the country, still red zoned, is inaccessible until everyone gets vaccinated so that the fifth wave (or sixth, seventh, etc.) doesn’t appear. I say the fifth wave because many people are deliberately sabotaging our freedom by choosing not to get vaccinated. That’s another story which shouldn’t have to be told.

Meanwhile, my month passed by in my three-person bubble waiting for some much-needed medical attention that was delayed because of the pandemic. I guess hanging around hospitals is relatively safe. If you get infected with the coronavirus, they know right away as the tell-tale symptoms show up, such as coughing and sniffling and generally feeling bad and out of air. When that happens, it’s straight to isolation and a serious interrogation featuring intrusive questions about your contacts.

The other evening, I went out for a smoke and out of the darkness a complete stranger approached me to ask if a large pickup with a heavy-duty trailer and a small shovel excavator as its load was my vehicle. I looked closely, saying that most likely it’s not mine, as I don’t recall having so much money to buy one. He laughed and came closer. I donned my mask just in case and extinguished my cigarette. 

“You know,” he said, “I lost one trailer just like this with a small excavator just like that one five days ago. I went into a dépanneur and came out and my trailer was gone! I’ve been looking for it since then all over Abitibi and north of Quebec!” 

I responded to his noticeably aggressive conversation starter by saying, “Well, you should have put on a tracking device to know where they are and find them on your smartphone.” I whipped out my cellphone and asked Siri where my car was. She dutifully informed me that it’s parked 20 metres away. The stranger changed his tone and thanked me for my advice. I wished him a good evening and left the poor guy in the parking lot darkness.

I went back to the hotel room we’ve been living in for more than a month, the same building many other people from the communities stay at when they show up for medical attention. We meet them and wonder where they come from and rely on their masked accents to distinguish their community identities. Anyway, most are too young for me to know, as I only know people who are 50 or older.

I notice all the white-and-grey-haired people, so I admit I’m in the right group and strike up conversations here and there. I discover that I am getting older and listen in amazement as to whose six-foot-tall grandchild I’m talking too. Einstein was right, time is relative to space and gravity. As time speeds by, my space grows smaller, and gravity pulls ever harder upon my once-firm muscles.

Hopefully, when this crazy pandemic finally tires of us weakly humans and dies out on its own, the rest of the world will be strong enough to recover. Stay healthy my friends!

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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.