I want to start from the very beginning. Some Indian guy gave me the first ride yesterday. It was cold this morning, the heating in the car was fully turned up. Comftable 45° in the car. Even readjusting my glasses couldn´t prevent the warm air sream from sucking all liquid out of my eyes.
I soon recognized, that my driver regularly passed over the hard shoulders of the road. First I thought he is a bad driver, but then I blamed it on cultural reasons. Maybe Indians don´t take it to precise with those hard shoulders in general. My driver was wearing a hoody and together with his bristly but yet imposing beard, he looked slightly threatening, All the way he was not speaking any word. Just a short notice after 50 km: „I have not english.“ We remained silent.
I was hitchhiking the 600km from Armstrong to Seattle the 4th time now and knew every exit and city on the way by heart. My indian ride dropped me at the big highway intersection in Kamloops. The position I wanted to end up the least. Lots of fast traffic. I found a place with a resonable keeping area and started thumbing, while alot fast traffic passed by. After 20 Minutes Ryan stopped.
„Get in!“, he was grouching, when I opened the door. Where you go? Merrit. Okay. I sat on the front seat and immediately recognized, that there was a big tube television behind me and I couldn´t lean back. „I was hitchhiking by myself, thats why I picked you up“, Ryan said, more grumbling than telling.
Ryan was wearing a yellow workwear jacket, his bus was full of shit and he was in a very bad mood. Told me something about Alberta, running away from the police and some friends, who drove off and „Stole my gas!“ He started screaming, raged behind the steering wheel. Bloodshot eyes and a rough, stubbly beard covering his grimly face. I knew, I was driving with a psychopath.
I am not afraid at all of people and neither I hesitate to get in touch in those situations. If you get into a car, you have to deal with lots of different kind people. I am hitchhiking since 8 years and I never had a driver who seriously wanted to harm me. He had a hard time, was raging, so I tried to talk to him and bring him down. I don´t expect anyone to turn his hate against me, even if he is obviously totally insane. And so far I was always right with my instincts.
We drove into the middle of nowhere, next city 80 km away. Merrit. Between nothing. His side mirror folded all the time and I had to stick my hand out of the window, to hold it, so that he could see, what was going on on my side. We drove on the very right lane. He constantly saw police cars approaching, when cars from behind appeared. But there where none. He was paranoid.
We drove and remained silent. A truck passed by on the left and right after Ryan pulled over the steering wheel and we drove also on the left lane, as if we would overtake another car, but there was none! I immediately became awake and threw a questioning look at Ryan. His eyes where widely open, he cramped the steering wheel and looked like someone stabbed his back recently. Is he totally crazy now. It took me some milliseconds to realize, what was going on. We slightly turned from the left lane back on the right side and moved towards the roadside ditch. He had an epileptic seizure. I immediately crapped the wheel and tried to bring us back on the track, but he was cramping to strong and I could only move the wheel a few millimeters. Maybe i saved my own live with this, I don´t know.
We took off the road and I saw us slipping into the ditch. We where heading towards an upward slope. And then the crash. I can remember everything. I had no seat belt, because this old Dodge Van did not had any on the passenger seat. Not to mention aribags. I immeditaley got smashed out of my seat into the windshild, then against my own door, the car might have collide with the slope, before we flipped over to the left. Then silence.
I could move, was totally shocked and in panic. I was screaming constantly: „Holy shit, holy shit!“ My first instinc was out here. Out out out. Where is the door? Above my head. I tried to open it, not possible. I tried to kick out the wind shild. Out out out. God, nothing is moving. In all my black despair I tried to open the door again. „Are you allright?“, I screamed to Ryan, more out of a reflex than being concious about it. He was somewhere under me and on him was a fridge lying, which i was sitting on. The window. I could open the window and got out of the car, like climbing out of a submarine. Looking around. Some person ran over from the other side of the road, another on was already on the phone. I felt warm blood running down my face and dropping on my new gloves.
My focus changed immediately. „Buddy, are you allright?“ I heard a moaning coming fro under the fridge. „Buddy, don´t worry, we get you out here.“ I slipped back into the car and had only one thought, to get the fridge off him. I tried helplessly to heave the fridge through the window, which was obviously much to small and my endeavor beyond hope. More people gathered outside. We opened the door, took out the fridge and some person commanded me: „You look like you should sit down here now!“
Meanwhile 8-10 people arrived. All emergency responders. A car with two nurses stopped. It is not important here, but tears coming, while I am writing this. I am so grateful for this people. Canadians have been awesome. In this situation I was under shock, my whole body was shaking. I couldn´t let any emotion go, had to function. I am traumatized.
At some point I ended up in the ambulance. They whiped the blood from my face and took the glas out of my eyes and forehead. If they would take me into the hospital? Yes. Where? Kamloops. Ryan was brought in. He couldn´t remember anything , said he was not picking up any hitchhiker. After some minutes, he recognized me sitting behind him. It took him three attempts to turn around and finally see me. His face turned illuminated: „Ah youuu dude!“, now everything became clear to him. „I am so sorry man! Sorry for that! Sorry that this happened to you!“, he excused himself. „No worries man, shit happens.“
I wasn´t angry at all. I knew he was in a much worser position than I was with my minor wounds. He wanted to go to Merrit and park his van there for the winter, to fix it. His whole property was dumped in the ditch and the Police, whom he was running from, was right beside him. He propably will have to go to jail.
I was looking for my hat and my glasses, which I found only on half of it. Really Kamloops? The policemen said he could give me a ride to Merrit. I felt, according to the circumstances, good and it didn´t made sense for me, to go back to Kamloops, sit in the hospital for a few hours and then continue on the road towards Seattle. I wanted to arrive, especially after this. I had still 400 km in front of me.
After signing some piece of paper and not even having to show my health insurance (thanks Canada) I could go, but was told to get to the hospital, if i feel dizzy, feel bad or certain pain occurs.
Brad, the policemen, gave me a lift in a state, where hitchhiking is illegal. He was hitchhiker by himself, went from Canada to Mexico 2 years ago. In 10 days down and back. Respect. Moving similar than me, staying on the road and camping out. We understood well. He bought me a coffee and some muffin and dropped me at the onramp in Merrit, from where I hitchhiked on to Seattle.
At the border, where the immigration police ripped me apart the last few times, I was interviewed by some elderly lady. Where i am going? Seattle, Why? To pick up a sleeping bag there, tomorrow I continue to Calgary. Aha, she repetetly sounded. I couldn´t tell if she was suspicious or agreeing. I knew the procedure and started to tell, what I always tell: That I am hitchhiking around the world and going to Alaska in December. Why December? Cause there are no roads and I move on the Winter-Trails to get towards Russia. Aha. I told her, that I went the 1200 km to Seattle last week already, to get this fucking parcel, which wasn´t there at this time. All the blues. She did not ask about it, but I also told her, that I was in a serious car accident this morning and pointed on my battered face.
„Stefan Stefan….“, she was shaking with her head and pressing her lips slightly together. We looked at each other seriously for a while. Slowly but heartfully she said: „Your poor Mum!“ I noded her assent. (Sorry mum!). „But you gotta do, what you gotta do“, i replied. „You gotta do, what you gotta do“, she repeated slowly and comprehensive, gave me back my passport and was wishing me a safe way to Seattle.