Sunday, April 7, 2013

October 9½, 2008: City without a face

"You're an idiot," the man remarked.  The "you" was me.  "An idiot," he said, "Idiot."

I put my feet down on either side of my bicycle, my canoe firmly attached behind me.  The man was small, standing in the middle of a small road in a small town that considered itself blankly.

"Idiot.  Idiot.  Idiot."

To my left was a warehouse clad in steel siding.  To my right was a naked warehouse.  These were only the first warehouses on a street of warehouses, none of which, seemingly, were actually warehouses.  They were other buildings -- buildings with no names, windows, or colors.  I was looking for a grocery store.  Was one of these plain buildings a grocery store?

"You're an idiot," the small man noted, to anyone who might be listening.  I could only assume some people were; I imagined them sitting on wooden benches in their metal warehouses, putting their ears to the trumpets of a system of pipes that ran all through the town and also opened, no doubt, to a nearby gate or drain.  The children waited behind their parents for a turn to listen at the pipes for anything to happen, and since all the pipes were connected, they would also hear other children, giggling, and then giggle themselves.  At the moment they were listening to a man call me an idiot.

I decided to stop listening to him.  I already knew how ridiculous it was to be caught, canoeing by bike in October in Canada in this city.  I parked and, eventually, found food.

My method was this: I walked to each warehouse in turn.  I examined the tiny sheet of paper scotch-taped to the side of it with the magnifying glass on my multi-tool.  Each paper showed the approximate times that the store was open, which I would compare to the precise time-of-day calculated by measuring the length of my shadow in multi-tool lengths.  If the store was open, good, I opened the door for a second to determine what was inside:

 - Taxidermy
 - Onions
 - Pets; mostly mice
 - Finally foodstuffs in cans and boxes (which was all I knew how to eat at the time; I did not become accustomed to raw mice until later in the trip)

"Idiot," the man said as I came out with a bag full of food.  Then he put his hand to his brow, stared at the sun, put both hands down in his pockets, kicked a heel, and spun himself away from me, walking down the street.  His shift was finally over.

The next man was perhaps more annoying.  As I tried to sleep in the off-season municipal park, in a cul-de-sac off a cul-de-sac off a strange squat structure that resembled something like a warehouse -- as I tried to sleep, I say -- he circled me slowly and continuously in plain gray steel car, his headlights dancing like ghosts on the walls of my tent right there in Dominion City, MB.

Day 110½ ended: 49*08.460½N, 097*09.081½W

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