Saturday, July 11, 2009

On The Highway

I punched the 'detour' button on Ted, our GPS. We were headed north on Hwy 11 to the hotel where we'd spend the night. Traffic was slowed right down. Joe muttered something about construction and something crude about dogs mating while I tried to find an 'off highway' route to get where we were going. We went up a little rise and then could see that the congestion ended only a kilometer or so ahead. There was a police car at the head of the right lane driving very slowly and after that the road was clear. We decided to wait it out.

Around us cars were filled with frustrated and angry faces. People on vacation in vacationland are the worst when it comes to road rage. THIS IS MY VACATION, I WORKED HARD FOR THIS TIME OFF, WHY IS SOME FRIGGING FRACKING ARSEJUMPER MAKING ME DRIVE SLOWLY WHEN I WANT TO RUSH TO GET TO SOMEWHERE WHERE I CAN SIT AND LOOK OUT AT THE SCENERY. I HATE LIFE! Some were banging on their steering wheels, many were shaking their heads at the comsic unfairness of the whole thing. Joe just says things like, 'It's only 3:00' It offends him when traffic is slow on non-peak periods. It's like traffic tie ups should happen at regular predictable times so smart fellows like him can avoid them. Three o'clock in deed!!

Me? I figure at least we're moving. As the right lane is blocked by something slow moving we all eventual merge over to the left. Something is changing, those driving the cars ahead of us, who can clearly see what we can yet not, are waving, smiling, honking horns. Joe and I glance at each other in real confusion. What caused the change? Finally we see a white trailer with a banner that says something about courage, I think. Then we see two guys on the road, between the truck pulling the trailer and the police car leading. They are on roller blades and carrying hockey sticks. Our windows were down so we both yelled out something encouraging like, 'Keep it going' or, God Forbid, 'Rock on'.

The bigger of the two guys I had seen on television a few weeks before. He was a blind guy (I think) who wanted to rollerblade across Canada (I think) in order to raise money and awareness (I think) for the idea of sport for people with disabilities and particularly those who are blind (I think). The specifics are really vague in my memory. I could have gone to look it up but a) I'm not a reporter b) its Saturday morning and I don't care enough and c) you look like you could use some time researching the net, why take that away from you.

I was surprised at my reaction. I've never seen one of these kind of marathons in the flesh before. I know many disability bloggers either shy away from this kind of fundraising and others are openly hostile to it. I don't really understand their upset at these, as they are called 'heroic crips' who do 'heroic things'. Personally, I experience disability my way, they experience disability their way, they have different abilities, different asperations and different contributions to make. The disability community is diverse and vibrant and full of those who rollerblade, those who blog, those who bitch over coffee. I think it's cool to see anyone doning something they clearly love to be doing.

But, shake my head and get back to the point. What was hysterical about the whole blind guy rollerblading across the Canada thing was that all those drivers who moments ago were screaming bloody murder were now smiling and waving. They were so, 'Hey man, it's ok with me you are tying up traffic, it's for a good cause and all.' They were so, 'The rest of these arsefaces were upset but not me man, I'm your bud.' Later on that evening we had gone to pick something up at the grocery and I heard a man telling his wife, 'At first I was pissed of, I mean that kind of tie up in the afternoon. But it was that guy we saw on television, you know the one who's raising money for blind hockey or something, he looked like he was having a blast.' His wife smiled and said, 'That's cause he has a purpose ...' He nodded and they walked out of earshot having a deeper conversation than I think either expected.

Hmmmm and Hmmmmm again.

I don't know how much money he will raise. I don't know how much awareness he will bring to sport and disability. But I'm guessing he will spark conversations that probably need to happen.

Whoever you are, cool guy on skates, good on you.


ivanova said...

Apparently I am that person with too much time on her hands on Saturday morning. The cool guy on skates is named Mark DeMontis and he is good at heartwarming names because his organization is called Courage Canada and his trip across country is called Quest to the West. Dave, you totally nailed it on all the specifics, so your memory is better than you think. Apparently, Mark DeMontis did not grow up blind but became blind as a teenager, and his message is that people with disabilities can do what they love and follow their dreams. At age 22, he is "one of Canada's youngest motivational speakers." Mission statement of his organization: "Whether or not a child in Canada is with or without sight, he or she should be given the chance to learn and love our nation’s game." Wow, you Canadians love your hockey. I once accidentally referred to this sport as "ice hockey" and a Canadian friend chewed me out good. I'm seeing an "inspirational" movie here--"Ice Castles" for this millennium. No, but really, I think Mark DeMontis is very cool and I hope he has a blast skating across country. I'm glad people are so open-minded that they can get past having to wait a couple minutes in traffic and take in the message. Not that the disabled guy is "heroic," but that he's enjoying his life and has a purpose.

k said...

"c) you look like you could use some time researching the net, why take that away from you."
I think I'm in love...
(Have I ever commented here before? I hope so, and you don't think I'm just some psycho. Or rather some total stranger psycho. Or something. Is it just me, or is this hole getting deeper?)