To Build

By Christie Brugger, Tofino, BC.

I heard from a local that hitchhiking on Gabriola was easy and safe. I pondered this statement while strolling along the dense tree-lined Taylor Bay Road after leaving the comforts of “The Haven.” When was the last time I exposed my bare thumb to the open road inviting strangers to whisk me away to places unknown? Before I could answer my own question, the approaching sound of tires on pavement triggered an involuntary reaction in my arm, as if it had a mind of its own. Unaware of the powers granted to this highly functional digit in a place like Gabriola, I offered the upcoming driver only a split second to react and swerve his white dust-covered Mitsubishi onto the grassy shoulder. Clearly a rookie move on my part, but behold my beautiful chariot awaited!

 Where was I going? Umm, well, I was going as far down North Road as he was, but let’s not talk about me, let’s talk about Gabriola! Being clueless to his destination of “Buttercup Road” I only knew that time was precious and could not be wasted. If I was going to get the goods on this island I had to be fast, efficient, and strategic. I quickly learned that “interviewing” on the road is restricted by the kilometers to the driver’s destination divided by their preferred RPM’s. “Is this what speed dating feels like?” “When will our time together expire?” “Please tell me your story, kind Gabriolan?”

 Each subsequent ride proved to be an equally effortless yet enlightening gateway into life on Gabriola Island. These people did not hesitate to talk about the place they call home, their passion for it, and its issues past and present. Their openness and enthusiasm was refreshing.

 As the afternoon wore on and I waddled past the farmlands of South Road the autumn sun ducked behind the looming trees. There were no cars coming in either direction. A slight uneasiness swept over me. Getting a ride was clearly not a problem, however, how could I be certain there would even be a next car to help my vehicle-impaired soul? Do people call it a night at 4:00pm on this friendly little island?

 Just then the angelic rumble of a well-used work truck struck my ears and came to a controlled stop next to me. The clean-cut young man introduced himself as Jordy—he grew up on Gabriola. He was a builder and we talked construction. Mission accomplished.

 P.S. For those of you who prefer cold hard facts to a good story, the stats are 6 and 2. That is 6 cars who encountered my exposed thumb stopped to give me a ride, 2 cruised on by (they probably weren’t locals)!

View the next postcard, To Remember...