Chapter Three

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The bus pulled out of the station and drove toward the highway. I sat in the uncomfortable seat staring out the window, watching the town that I grew up in pass by. It was almost like a seminar on my life. We drove by the grocery store where I had been caught shoplifting when I was eight. Down the road from that was my old high school and the park where I encountered my first fight. We drove passed the video store where I rented movies, my old dojo where I trained martial arts, and the set of ten stairs that I kick-flipped last summer. When the bus finally merged onto the highway, I put my headphones on and shut my eyes.  

A few hours into the trip, I woke up with a slight cramp in my lower back. I took out a sweatshirt from my bag and wedged it between my back and the seat. I made a few adjustments then looked out the window. We were driving through the Rocky Mountains. The massive jagged mountains made me feel small. It wasn't exactly a jungle, but I was entering the real world. Now that I was wide-awake, I had a lot of time to think. The first thought that occurred to me was, this is the first day of the rest of my life. I had no idea how my life would unfold, but I was eager to find out. The combination of excitement and nervousness sent my mind into a tailspin as I analyzed all the potential opportunities and dangers that lay before me.  

After driving for six hours, the bus finally arrived in Banff a little after dinnertime. The bus maneuvered into the station and I continued to stare out the window, taking in as much of my new surroundings as possible. My eyes cascaded from the snowy mountain peaks down to two familiar faces that were outside waiting for me. I couldn't help but smile as I waved at them.  

I stepped off the bus to see Will and his girlfriend Bailey standing there with matching smiles. It was if they hadn't seen me in years. In actuality, it had only been a couple of weeks.  

My first impression of Banff was good; in fact, it was absolutely breathtaking. The entire town was nestled in between a bunch of snow-peaked mountains in the middle of nowhere. I immediately noticed the air was a lot cleaner, but it was also colder than I expected. Even though it was the start of summer I had to put on a jacket as we walked to Will and Bailey's place.  

"Well, this is it," Will said, as we approached a small brown one-level house. Will led us around the side of the house to their entrance.  

As we entered the house, I looked up at the top of the staircase and saw an old lady sneering at us. 

"Who was that?" I asked when we arrived downstairs. 

"That's the owner of the house," Bailey replied. 

"She didn't look too pleased to see us." 

"She's usually okay, but she's a crotchy old bag," Will said. "She made it very clear when we moved in that there was not to be any visitors staying with us." 

"I'm glad to see you're still defying authority, Will," I joked. 

I was not aware there would be an angry tyrant living upstairs. I sure hoped she wouldn't cause me any problems while I was staying there.  

I set my bag down and Will took me on a tour of their basement suite. It had a log cabin feel to it, complete with a large sofa and a wood burning fireplace. So far, so good, I thought. 

Will and Bailey had a way of making me feel warm and welcome, but this was not a summer vacation. I needed to start looking for work immediately. I estimated my money would run out by the end of the week. I had also packed enough macaroni and cheese to last me a week. So that was my time frame - one week to get my life on track.  

The next morning I woke up and sat down at the computer. Will and Bailey had left for work so I used the quiet time to create my résumé. I didn't have any actual work experience to put on it so I used my imagination. I started out by putting Seasonal Labourer as my primary occupation. This covered all of my lawn mowing and snow shoveling experience. I also put on there that I did some landscaping and gutter installation. It was a small fabrication, but I didn't think an employer would care if I could install gutters; I just needed to pad my list and convey I was a hard worker.  

My second 'occupation' was a Mechanical Assistant. This was another fabrication, I think I handed my dad a wrench one time when he was working on his car. As a general rule, I don't like to lie, but I was in survival mode, so all bets were off. 

Nearly all the places I applied to wanted references or some sort of real work experience. I was starting to realize how difficult it was for someone fresh out of high school to get a job. Nobody wanted to take a gamble on a young kid like me, but I was not going to let this hurdle deter me and get me down. I was on my own and needed to become a man. That involved getting a job and taking care of myself. Being rejected was not an option. 

I walked into the main snowboard shop in town and asked to speak with the manager. 

"I'm the manager, how can I help you?" 

I extended my left hand and he reciprocated. The manager looked at me a bit strangely, but then dismissed the left-handed handshake.  

I proceeded to introduce myself, explained the reason for my visit, and then handed him my résumé. When he looked at it, he had the same look on his face that everyone else had. I knew I had to take action to impress him, so I began to speak. "Sir, I understand I don't have a lot of work experience, but my passion and hard work is second to none. Let me show you what I can do for you," I said confidently.  

He looked at me for a moment, then asked. "Do you snowboard?"  

"Yes, sir, I've been riding for ten years," I said enthusiastically. 

"Do you know about bikes?"  

"Yes, sir," I replied. It was another small lie; I didn't know anything about bikes. I figured since it was the middle of the summer, bike season would only last a few more months anyway. I didn't think it was all that important for me to know about bikes.  

"I'm curious, why did you shake my left hand when you came in?" he asked.  

"I did it out of respect, sir... you know, because you're left-handed." 

"How did you know I was left-handed?" 

"Well, when I came in you were crouching down, which allowed me to see the top of your head. I noticed your hair unconventionally swirled in a counterclockwise direction. This is a common genetic trait of left-handed people. Then, when you stood up I noticed you were wearing a chain wallet on the left side. Finally, I noticed you had ink on your middle and index finger on your left hand, an obvious sign you use that hand to write with." 

"Wow, that's incredible. You're very perceptive," he said with a slight laugh, like someone who just witnessed a really good magic trick. "I like your style," he looked at me for a moment, still with a smirk on his face. "I'll tell you what, can you be here tomorrow at eight?" 

"Yes, sir, I can," I replied excitingly. "Thank you so much, you won't regret it." I shook his hand again and left right away before he changed his mind.

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