Some of the interesting things about flying in the north are the reasons for which you occasionally get called out to go flying. Most often it’s pretty simple: Jonny Mosquito needs to get from Point A to Point B. Sometimes it’s a little more interesting. “There are canoeists overdue. They were canoeing from Leftrook Lake to Nelson House. Go up and see if you can find them.” Or, “Yeah….we’re gonna have to get you to go and pick up a dead body from Thicket Portage. It’s OK though, it’s in a body bag.” Creepy. Sunday was one such interesting trip. No, my passenger wasn’t deceased. No small thanks to his drinking buddy though. I was thoroughly enjoying my Sunday, watching the Olympics and looking forward to the Canada/USA round robin game. You remember: the one we lost despite generally out-shooting and out-playing them entirely because our goalie was playing well below his usual level and theirs was playing well above his usual level. Anyway, I got a call from the boss telling me I had to go flying to Nahanni Butte to take a passenger back there. As you can well imagine I was less than pleased to have my general Sunday sloth interrupted for the purpose of flying to the Butte for roughly the 4,763rd time in my life. Especially because if the passenger was late, I might miss the puck drop. When I got to work I discovered the reason for the trip; it made me even more mad. Apparently, the day prior, my passenger (let’s call him Jonny Chestwound) had been stabbed by his supposed buddy (let’s call him Tommy Stabsalot) and he had come in to town to get patched up and now needed to get back home. The catalyst for this event was? Any guesses? If you said alcohol, you are correct. How surprising. The reason is a mystery, probably even to the two parties involved, because I imagine they were both too drunk to remember. But I imagine it went something like this:
THE SCENE: Tommy Stabsalot sitting inebriated in his 1970’s era tweed and duct tape Barcalounger, drinking straight from his bottle of Smirnoff vodka. Jonny Chestwound enters through door on stage left and plants himself in the white plastic patio chair next to Tommy.
JONNY: “Hey, Tommy, what you got there?”
TOMMY: “Have a drink.”
Glug glug glug…cough…glug.
TOMMY: “Hey, give it back.”
JONNY: “Hold on, one more swig.”
TOMMY: “Give me the *expletive* bottle.”
JONNY: “Hold on, one more swig.”
TOMMY: “You *expletive**expletive*!!”
Ok, so I took some artistic liberties in my interpretation of what may or may not have occurred. It just strikes me that the only thing that could possibly spark such a stupid alcohol-fueled happening would just have to be something equally stupid and quite likely, totally insignificant. These sorts of violent happenings are much more rare in this part of the north than in other areas I have worked. In northern Ontario and Manitoba it’s a daily occurrence; a way of life practically. In the NWT people seem to be a little more mellow, but it still does not surprise me in the least. I just shake my head. At least he was on time and I made it back in time for the game.
The rest of the week was much more straightforward, albeit unexpectedly busy. Environment and Natural Resources was doing a week of caribou collaring, that is, putting radio transmitter collars on local woodland caribou. At the last minute, they decided that to save money they would have me go out in the 185 (much cheaper to operate than a helicopter) to go out ahead of the chopper and locate caribou for them so all they would have to do is go directly to the locations I gave them. Then they use a specialized gun that shoots a weighted net over the caribou, trapping it. They then land, take blood samples, strap on the collar and move on to the next location. Needless to say it was a fun way to break up what would have otherwise been a slow, boring week.
And of course there was the Olympics which I watched, thanks to a “borrowed” television and satellite receiver. I’m too cheap to pay for satellite, not that it would matter since I don’t own a TV. But thankfully my friend Tim was away for the month of February. And thankfully he doesn’t bolt his belongings down to the floor, if ya know what I mean. I could go on and on about the Olympics but suffice to say that it was spectacular, in my opinion. Those that know me well, know that I’m a very proud Canadian, so it felt so great to see millions of Canadians coming together and expressing those same feelings of national pride. It was a really special time in this country and my only regret is that I didn’t have the time and available finances to go and be a part of it at ground zero in Vancouver. But hey, thanks to a goal from Sidney Crosby that will go down in history as one the biggest this country has ever witnessed, it pushed us not only to the top of the hockey world, but also to the top of the pile of Olympic gold and even more impressively made 30 million Canadians (who normally couldn’t agree on the correct pronunciation of poutine) all jump and shout in unison.