Kodiak, as his name suggests, is a bear of a guy, tall with a husky build.  He’s 27 and works as a long-distance trucker, living with his parents in Cottage County when he’s home (his mother died a few days before he agreed to an interview, but he didn’t mention it when arranging a time).  One of the first things he tells about himself is that he is adopted, and a sense of not quite belonging is evident throughout his story, which he explains in several ways.  His size is also an element in his story.  He conjectures about balances between emotion and intellect, introversion and need for social connection, city people and country people. 

FM:  Okay, start with a bit of a sketch of where you were raised, who was in your family, what they did for a living, etc.

Okay.  I was born in [the hospital] in Litttletown.  I was adopted.  My father was a teacher at a local school for 31 years.  My mother was a chartered accountant assistance for 30+ years.  I went to Riverville school up until grade 8 and I’ve also gone to elementary school in Lakeville for one year because my dad had a heart attack in class, while he was teaching, and because he was teaching in Riverville, I’d always get rides into school in the morning with him and mom, but when he retired, I had to take the bus and it went to Lakeville.  So that was a fun year.  Then went to [the local high school] for my high school.  Five years of that, just simple – between sick days and stuff like that I lost a year, and OAC was not an issue – that was the first year after they’d scrapped it. 

After high school I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to do so I went to college for computer security.  Found out after a year I didn’t much care for the college / post sec atmosphere, so came back home, did some odd jobs around town – property maintenance, grass cutting, brush removal, that kind of thing.  I guess it was April of 2006 I saw an ad in the paper –there was a presentation for truck driving and heavy equipment driving – they were going to have that at one of the local hotels.  I went with a friend to that.  A month and a half later I took the course, and then I got my AZ license and started driving, and that’s been that.

FM: Just unpack this a bit.  You’re how old?

27 in January. 

FM: And where did you go to college? 

[Community College] in Middletown.

FM: And where did you live when you went to school?

I was in the on-campus res.  That was the only thing about the school I did like, because I didn’t have much socialization up here.  Being a teacher’s kid, at the school that you went to, being adopted, all the general little things that made me, me, sorta set me apart from the other kids in general.  And of course the fact that mom and dad live out in [a rural area], not exactly a huge youth population out there.  So after-school hangouts didn’t happen all that much.  More go to my room and read, play video games, stuff like that. 

FM: You were an only child?

Yes. 

FM: And talk a bit more about the ‘stigma’ of being a teacher’s kid.

Okay.  Basically if you’re a teacher’s kid – from my perspective at least – if you have students who have your parent for a teacher and he’s strict – and my dad was – then they like to bully and pick on you because they feel that’s the way your parent treated them. 

FM: What did your dad teach?

For most of his years he taught shop and science.  For his last 5 years or so he taught science and different grades in home room. 

FM: Because shop had been discontinued?

Yes, shop had been scrapped.  A different principal came in and she decided that shop was no longer needed.  Dad was off on medical leave, and she just got rid of all the equipment and everything.  So that actually did bug him.  He enjoyed it; he was good with his hands, still is.  When he came back they put him in a home room and it just wasn’t the same. 

FM: Sometimes kids who take shop are a particular sub-set of the school population – do you think that had any influence on how the students treated you? 

Not really, because by the time I got to school the shop was pretty much winding down, to begin with.   When dad first started, everybody took shop.  Dad had close to 20 stations in his shop, including welding, machining, things that if they tried to do that now, there’d be some sort of uproar from some bubble-kid parent.  But as it’s gotten more into modern times, there are so many parents out there who are worried that little Jimmy or little Jenny is going to get a paper cut, that shop isn’t a viable subject.  But, when I got around to the school, it was more of a glorified arts and crafts than the original shop.  My friends took it with me.  It’s more the fact that my dad was very strict.  When he started shop, he had power saws, he had band saws, welding equipment, all these things where you had to be safe or you could be dead.  So he just wound up, he had to be strict for the simple fact that he had to keep his kids safe, and when he wound up in home room, he just kept on being strict. 

FM: Okay, we might return to that…  but just to clarify; you were adopted at birth? 

Yes, from what I’ve been told – and I still haven’t gotten around to looking up all the facts myself – my birth mother walked into [the hospital] and said I’m going to be having a baby around this time and I want to give it up.  Mom and dad had been on the adoption waiting list.  They were lucky: they knew the doctor that my birth mother was dealing with, and the social worker – I’m pretty sure my mom was related to her.  Mom and dad were looking for a baby who – basically they couldn’t afford to have a baby with special needs – this is a rural area with limited ability to treat health needs, and being out so far in the bush as they were – from mom and dad’s place to the Riverville hospital is a 14-minute drive at 100 km/hr. 

FM: Okay, so you came to your adoptive family basically from hospital. 

Yes, I was in the hospital for 5 weeks.  I had health concerns.  I was born with turned-in feet.  They had to put casts on for alignment and see that that was working, and then after the 5 weeks to double-check everything, they brought me home. 

FM: Okay.  So I’m gathering that your folks are long-time Cottage County residents?

Yes.  Dad was born and raised in Toronto.  He moved up here in the early 60s to start teaching and he’s been here ever since.  Mom’s dad was a long-time resident here.  He was big in real estate around here.  He and his partner sold half the county.  So mom was raised here.  The furthest away she’s lived is Littletown.  And then she came back up here.  She and dad met up here, got married up here.  And mom died up here.  Last month. 

FM: Oh, I am sorry about that.  And thank you for doing this under those circumstances.  Actually, her voice was on the answering machine. 

Two reasons for that.  First, a nice little reminder to keep her around a bit.  Secondly, neither dad nor I are technically savvy enough to change the message – we can erase the messages, but that’s it. 

FM: Okay…  so, how was school for you academically, and what did you mean about the year in Lakeville elementary being ‘fun’…

School was an interesting time for the simple fact that I have an IQ of 184 which according to the tests I’ve taken is borderline genius.  Not to sound conceited or anything, I’m smarter than average.  The problem is that when I was in kindergarten I was taught to hold a pen or pencil differently than most people, because I was left handed, the only one in my class to be left handed.  So the way she taught me, once it was hard wired she taught me to write that way, it cramps the muscles in my hand.  And after about 5 minutes of writing, it’s actually painful for me to write.  So Pavolovian training, it pains me to write, I don’t want to write.  So I don’t write.  Which really hurt me in the fact I didn’t do homework assignments.  It frustrated my teachers, it frustrated my parents.  And it hurt me – things like oral tests, multiple answer, things that didn’t require much writing, I aced them.  But when it came to essay questions, writing out paragraph after paragraph of stuff, I sometimes just wouldn’t bother to do it because my brain already knew, writing equals pain. 

FM: It sounds like a learning disability of a sort. 

In grade 4, my mom – she was very good at backing me when there was an issue – in grade 4 they pushed to have me tested to see if my writing would fall under a classification of learning disability.  It wound up that whoever decided said that it would and I was given permission to have a computer in classes.  So I’d bring a computer from home, have it in the classroom.  But kids being kids, they’d get jealous because here I am on my computer typing away while they have to write out everything.  There was more than one occasion when kids would purposefully spill drinks on my computer, things like that.  In addition to being teacher’s kid, adopted, it was just one more thing. 

FM: And you’re very big – were you then?

Back then I was more round than the oval I am now.  From kindergarten to grade 5 I was the largest child in the school from my age down, both height and weight.  About grade 5, everyone started getting their height spurt starting, and my height didn’t start until grade 10.  In the summer after grade 10, going into the summer I was 5’2”, and when I went back to school in the fall I was 6’3”.  I was pretty much laid up for the whole summer because it was so painful – growth of that magnitude, bones stretching, joint pressure, it was painful.  From grade 11 until I stopped growing, I grew another inch and a half.  So my current height is 6’4 and 1/2. 

FM: Was that a factor in social

Yeah, in school in general you get picked on for being overweight.  It’s just kids being kids; kids will always find something to tease another kid about. 

FM: Okay… so now a bit more about post sec – residence was socially interesting, you said.  Can you talk a bit more about that?

Like I said before, I didn’t get much of a chance for socialization through elementary and high school, so when I got a chance to be on-campus res, I jumped at it because [the college] res have 6 bedrooms, 6 people per suite.  And there’s 4 of these suites per floor, 4 floors per building, so I was around a lot of people all of a sudden.  It sorta forced me to adapt to a whole new mind-set of hey, people, cool!!!  I had to learn how to be socially adept quick. 

And it was a whole new experience in general, because unlike most kids in this county, I never drank before my 19th birthday.  So when I got to res, I turned 19 in the middle of the school year and that was an interesting experience.  My very first experience with alcohol – got a bit of ribbing over it because everybody in the dorm, like most kids, had had a drink or two before, and here was I at my 19th birthday, hadn’t had a drop of it. 

FM: Why not?  Why were you different than most local kids, who move early to drinking? 

Well, it was sorta a double reason.  The first reason was a basic respect.  My parents don’t drink and they didn’t – they didn’t tell me not to drink but they basically asked me not to until it was legal – they’re law-abiding people.  The second reason is my mother actually worked for the OPP for 40 years as a civilian guard, so she had basically seen every bad outcome you could get from drinking in general, so I just didn’t to try and allay her fears. 

FM: Okay, so you’re a neophyte at college – did you manage it okay? 

Well, it turns out that despite my inexperience with general alcohol beverages, because of my size, body size, stature, I do not vomit, I do not get hangovers and in general I’m able to sober up even before I go to bed because my body absorbs it.  So it turns out I was a good guy to have around because I’d sober up promptly if necessary.  I don’t know how or why it happened, I can drink with the boys, no problem, hold my own, but at the same time, it’s too expensive for me to drink ridiculous amounts.  It just is.  Second last week of college, we all went out to the bar and we’d all got our income tax statements.  Not a good idea to let college kids go out with that much money to the bar, but there you have it.  I went to the bar with $1000 in my account, came back with $200…  so booze in general, it’s an expensive hobby for me, at least. 

FM: So socially it was a good time, but the course wasn’t your cup of tea? 

No, the computer security course that I took – to put it bluntly, I don’t have the hands for it.  I’ve got bear paws, and when you’re dealing with small electronic components, the delicate work, I’d always end up coming to grief.  Trying to put a small transistor or fuse, or whatever, it would end up smushed.  Or I couldn’t get my hand into the space. 

FM: What assistance did you have with choosing a course, or choosing college vs something else? 

Assistance in general I didn’t much get.  I’m not going to lie, I wasn’t a fan of my guidance counselor – she always sent everyone on the wrong path.  Like I had a few friends who knew what they wanted right out of school and they asked her what courses they needed to take and it turns out they were the wrong courses, they had to take more.  So when it came down to it, it was more the fact that with dad and most of his family being teachers, I knew it wasn’t going to avoid taking post-secondary education.  So if I had to go, I was going to pick something that I wanted to take.   I’ll be the first to admit, it was a impulse choice, not one of my finest moment, because I’d seen the movie ‘Swordfish’ which is about hackers and the course that I wound up taking was to be a government and law enforcement hacker.  So it was one of those things.  I’d been fortunate that my grandfather had set up an education fund, so I had the money to do a year, debt free, to make sure I wanted to do it anyways.  So I just basically picked up the [college] book – because I never wanted to be far from home – paged through it, said That looks cool, sent off the application, got accepted a week or so later.  And then I went. 

FM: Expand a bit ‘never wanted to be far from home’.

Okay.  Well, I’ve always grown up around senior citizens.  The church that my parents took me to when I was younger, senior citizens.  Friends of my parents, senior citizens, a bit younger at the time.  And when you’re a kid and hang around with senior citizens, eventually you start losing people you grew up with and you realize your own parents are that age, you don’t want to be far away because you know something can happen.  And you might lose them. 

FM: But you also described that you dad had a serious health episode when you were quite young.

Yeah, he’s been a heart patient for several years, had double-bypass, angioplasty, basically everything you can have but a pace-maker or heart implant, those are the only thing he’s missing on the Bingo card.  So, yeah, that probably also had an effect.  And mom was a severe diabetic as well.  So it didn’t help that I had parents with serious health issues.  So that had a big impact with not wanting to be far from home.  When I was a kid, we’d go down to the city on a regular basis, and as far as I was concerned, there was no city that could compare to this county.  Period.

FM: Okay, which is a bit ironic, now, in that you do long-distance trucking…

Yeah, not exactly what I was expecting myself to be in general, and admittedly, this was another of my impulse choices.  Because as I said earlier, that company had a seminar at a local hotel, but admittedly, the only reason I seriously considered it was I’d watch Smokey and the Bandit the night before.  Seems like some of my life choices seem to be based on impulse movies.  But even doing the long haul trucking, I have been to 47 states and 8 provinces and as far as I’m concerned, there’s no place I’d rather be than this county. 

FM: And this kind of work makes that possible?

Yeah.  One of the benefits about this job is I’m able to make a decent income and still live around here.  Because I’ve got a lot of friends who are seasonal workers – because admittedly, this county doesn’t have winter work for everyone.  So most of my friends that do this kind of stuff have to be on unemployment during the winter or some other form of income subsidy.  They’re not happy doing it, on the simple basis it’s not regular, steady work.  Whereas I can come home, spend 4 days or a week home, go out on the road again, know I’ve got a regular pay check, a steady job, and I don’t have to leave the county to get work. 

FM: Do you mind saying what sort of income this job provides? 

Admittedly, my own truck driving teacher said I’m not greedy enough for this industry.  I enjoy my home time too much.  I make between $32-36,000/yr.  And that is lower than average on the simple fact a lot of guys work more days than I do and those guys make $45-50,000/yr.  I have a couple of co-workers who have very little home-time but they are bringing in $80,000/yr.  These are all the company drivers.  If I were to get my own rig and work for a company, I would have the potential of making upwards of $300,000/yr.  So given that I’m making 1/10 of what I could make – that’s why my teacher said I’m not greedy enough – but I’m home with my friends more often.  And I have a social life; some of my co-workers don’t. 

FM: It’s interesting to me that you describe yourself as being somewhat socially isolated as a child, but now it is of supreme importance.  Anything about that? 

I don’t know if it’s over-compensating for my earlier lack of socialization or if it’s something else.  It’s unusual because most of the people I know they either like being around everyone or they are at work.  I don’t know any of my friends who have the split mentality for balancing being around people and having my own time like I do.

FM: Because your work is very solitary, right? 

It can be.  Depending.  Right now, the company I work for I do a lot of the shorter work.  So I’m in their yard a couple, three times a week.  So I’m among the other drivers more often than they’re among each other.  But a couple years ago, when I was going out west, I wouldn’t see the other drivers for weeks at a time.  I don’t generally socialize with other truckers at the truck stop, unless there’s some reason to.  So the potential for solitary time is very present.  But oddly enough, I still enjoy solitude when I come home. 

About a month ago, I came home and never really figured out why but I was just not in a good mood.  Said I’m just going to come home and sit out on a lawn chair and watch the sky for 3-4 days, and I did.  And the next time I came home, I was out with my friends the entire time. 

FM: How compatible is this employment with having a family, and do you think about that? 

Well, I am in the process of getting divorced.  It’s kind of strange because the girl I married, her brother is more of a hard-core driver than I am.  So she said she knew what she was getting into, but it appears she didn’t.  It’s not the easiest industry to marry into, I’ll be the first to admit that.  It takes a special sort of woman to say, okay, he’s not going to be home for 2-3 weeks at a time and I’m okay with that.  Yeah, I’ve already got one failed relationship because of it, but I know that’s just the way it worked out.  Generally, relationships aren’t very high on my list of priorities, something that makes me weirder than my weird friends.  Most of my friends have to be in a relationship at one time or another, but for me, if it happens, it happens, I’m not going to cry in my bowl of Corn Flakes over it. 

FM: Where or how did you meet the girl you married?

I met her up here.  She was raised up here.  She went away for work and came back.  Then we met at my folks’ church – neither of us are very religious which makes meeting at that church ironic.  I was home from a trip and the folks asked me to go to a games night at the church and she happened to be there.

FM : No kids? 

No.  She had a hysterectomy when she was 17 so she is unable to have kids, which turned out for the best the way it turned out.  And I know I’m not remotely ready to be a father yet. 

FM: Okay.  Let me just check some of my list… we’ve done education, employment, let’s do health...

This is pretty much going to be a list.  I am an asthmatic in remission.  I haven’t had an asthmatic episode in several years but it’s still there.  I get chronic ear infections, spikes my temp to 104 degrees, knocks me out.  Usually takes me out of commission for a week and a half.  I have flat feet, no arches whatsoever which is not only bad for my posture but generally painful.  I’ve torn the 3 main tendons in both my ankles just landing on them bad at different points of walking.  Both my knees are shot because of a medical condition – they changed the name on me now, used to be called chondra malacia.  It’s the tendons in the groove of the knee-cap, after a certain amount of activity will pull straight and pop out of the groove and tighten on top of the kneecap.  And it’s incredibly excruciating.  I have fallen off two different flatbed loads, minimum 13’ drops, both of them, so my body in general has taken a beating there.  I was in a head-on collision with a dump truck, not sure what the long-term consequences will be of that.  When I was in high school I played football for a year, made a bad tackle and compressed my neck.  Didn’t get it looked at because it didn’t feel different – it hasn’t affected anything per se but just gets sore now and then.  That’s what I can think of off the top of my head.  I had my annual physical last June or July and the doc said if I were a horse he’d shoot me. 

FM: So a lot of the foot and leg stuff might be associated with congenital issues – your feet being turned in at birth.

Possibly, I’ve never looked for my birthparents’ medical records.  The way I figure, if I’m going to play Russian Roulette with my health, I don’t want to know what chamber the bullet is in.

FM: Right, but what sounds almost like club foot, may well not have a hereditary basis…  lemme ask, what have your thoughts been about exploring your birth heritage? 

Well, that’s been a little bit of a while elephant topic, because I know if I looked for my birth parents while my mom was around, she’d be hurt.  Which is somewhat understandable, she adopted me, she raised me, took care of me.  So she – I can see how she could say does this mean he doesn’t want me any more.  But now that she’s gone, I am considering looking into it just out of a simple curiosity standpoint.  I wouldn’t mind knowing who my birth parents are for just the simple reason – is my mother the tall one, my father?  Is my mother the hairy one, my father???   I was sorta lucky in that, even though I was adopted, I fitted into my adopted family genetic wise, because everyone in my mom’s family is 6’ tall or taller and I actually look almost identical to my father when he was my age except he’s about a foot and a half shorter.  When I was a kid I used to bowl and I had a picture taken when I won a trophy.  And my mom took the picture to my dad’s older sister and she said, I don’t remember [my dad] bowling.  That’s why nobody believes me – they have a hard time believing that I’m adopted because I look like my dad and I’m as tall as my uncles and my cousins on my mom’s side. 

FM: But for all that, it does seem important to you; it was almost the second thing you told me about yourself. 

Yeah.  I’m not entirely sure why.  It could just be because of all the grief I got as a kid.  I tend to take what people bug me about and take pride in it.  Like I get grief about my adoption, still.  Now it’s not mean now, it’s good-natured teasing.  But when I was younger, it was mean-spirited from other kids.  I’d just say, “Well at least I was adopted, that means somebody wanted me.”

FM: But being placed for adoption, also means that someone didn’t want you…

That’s what a lot of people would say, but part of the fun part of being me, I’ve got a superiority complex.  So from my point of view, I just think that someone just threw away a winning lottery ticket. 

FM: And giving a baby up for adoption can also be a very unselfish act, causing great pain in the service of what is seen as the right decision, head over heart. 

Yeah, that’s true but if I actually started thinking about what the actual motives could have been, I’d have been an emotional wreck years ago.  In any situation I just look at the end result.  Even dealing with my friends now, motives don’t mean anything to me.  It’s the end result and who was affected by it.  My birth mother could have had the most unselfish, kind-hearted motivation in the world, the fact was she gave me up and this is where I am now.  I’ve got too analytical a mind to put the emotional aspect into it.  This is the end result and there’s no point in looking at how anyone else felt about it at the time, because I’m still here. 

That’s another little quirk of mine.  Emotions generally don’t pay a lot in my thought process.  Around this town, there’s a lot of drama, my age, a little older.  And the main reason why I haven’t been dragged into it, I don’t let the emotional stuff get dragged into it, period.  There’s been things that have happened to friends to mine that if I were anywhere close to a normal reacting human being, would have made me go yell at someone if not worse.  But I’m too – cold, I don’t want to use that word.  Stoic.  Rational, to get the emotional attachment and involvement in this stuff.  I just look at what happened and say this is what’s happened and this is how we can deal with it.  Emotions just don’t pay a big part in it.  I think that’s why I was called borderline schizoid.  I thought they meant schizophrenic, but they said, no, schizoid, that’s different.

FM: So when was this? 

This was actually back in my 5th year in high school, we had a psychology course and we had a couple psychologists come into class and do some psychological evals just to see what it’s like.  So I wound up

FM: Lemme ask what kind of instrument did they use? 

There was some weird name, a paper test, went through the re–

FM: Lots of questions – the MMPI? I forget what it stands for; the PI is Personality Inventory, and it asks a ton of question–

The one with 4 letters?  That’s one we did earlier.  This one, they were asking a student questions, how do you feel about this, and putting the answer on a chart and then the chart told them sort of where they fell.  When they got done with me they said I was borderline schizoid, highly introverted, superiority complex, mildly narcissistic.  So there’s sorta a running theme... 

FM: Very interesting – in terms of how well you remember it, even 7 years later.

Well, my memory is a weird tool.  When it comes to really really important stuff, I tend not to remember it, but when it’s random trivia that nobody actually cares about, it comes like that.  There’ve been times when my friends and I are talking and I spew out 15 facts, and they say how come you can remember that when you can’t remember our birthdays. 

So, yeah, I don’t try and rely on my memory for much.  As it stands now with work, the only things I worry about remembering is directions.  Like I can tell you how to get to 5 different places in the US right now, right down to what fast food joint in on which corner.  But I can’t remember my dad’s actual birthday for anything; I can remember it’s May and 1945, but do you think I can remember the date?  Nope!

FM: Okay.  Involvement with the justice system? 

Like I said before, my mom worked with the OPP for 40 years so I kinda grew up among them.  My dad taught many of the OPP who work in Riverville now, so I’ve had a passing relationship with them now.  As for actual involvement, the summer after grade 8, I went to summer school and one of my classmates vandalized a vending machine.  And of course I got dragged into that investigation, since I’m a big person, I enjoyed my candy and used that vending machine myself.  And I’ve had a couple of speeding tickets.

FM: With your truck?

No, my personal vehicles.  Any other involvement with law enforcement has more been in passing in relation to something else.  They’re looking for someone I know, I’m in an area something has happened.  For the most part I’ve been a pretty good kid. 

FM: Okay, I’ve got some finish-up questions.  We ready for that?

Sure.

FM: Okay.  In order that the people who read this story understand it the way you want them to, would you offer some shape and focus by saying what you think is the Most Important Event in the story.  Could be something that happened, or something that didn’t happen, a hole or an absence of some sort.  So, what?

Um, I think the most important thing that happened is that I was raised up here.  because if I’d been raised anywhere else, it would have been a completely different story.

FM: Like how do you think that being raised up here has most strongly forged who you are? 

Being raised up here, not the newer generations, unfortunately, my generation and older, we were raised with a level of respect and self-sufficiency that you don’t see in the cities as much.  In my view of cities, given how many cities I’ve been to.  I was raised with old-school values and respect, and who knows, if I hadn’t been, I might have had a more intimate view of the justice system than I had.  Or doing stupider things that may have had me 6’ deep by now.  But because I was raised up here with the people I was, this is how my story turned out. 

FM: Yeah, you describe that sorting through the emotional components of situations is not your strong suit, and so having a good guide-book of rules would come in handy for you. 

It’s not that it’s not my strong suit.  I can empathize very well.  It’s not that I can’t sort though emotions; it’s just they’re not my priority.  I get emotions just like anyone else.  I can just compartmentalize them and store them away better than anyone else.  Like most of my friends are more emotional than I am.  And they go through situations and don’t handle them as stoically as I do.  And that’s where I go in and say you need someone who can handle this with you without breaking down.  So basically I’m the rock of the group.  Most of them have gone through – one of my friends lost his sister to cancer, another one lost her kids – they didn’t die, just the situation rose up the dad got the kids.  Another one of my friends, his father died.  They’ve all just had tragedies where someone isn’t going to crumble, and that’s what I’m good at. 

FM: Okay… Question two:  People who read this story are going to form an opinion about how it turns out in the end, for good or for not so good.  What do you think?

Of my end result?  That’s one of my personal philosophies, it’s basically there’s no good or bad, just neutrality, basic degrees of it.  When I look at life in general, my life, anyone else’s life, it’s balanced.  If someone looks at my life and says it’s going to be good, that’s their personal philosophy kicking into the story.  And the same of people who say it’s not going to be good.  I just look at my life and say it’s my life, it’s going to be good and bad and just keep it balanced, that’s all I care about. Because nobody’s life is all good or all bad.

FM: And I heard a bit of the judgment being in the eye of the beholder???

Yeah.  Everyone’s going to have their own opinion and I personally don’t think people should be punished for having an opinion.  One of the things I keep throwing out to my friends is I don’t agree with everything you say but I’ll fight to the death for your right to say it. 

FM: Alrighty… two advice questions:  What advice would you give to your younger self, whether or not your younger self would take that advice, that might help this story unfold better or easier or whatever.  What advice?

Um, looking back on it, the only thing I would have told my younger self to do is get into trucking earlier.  I wasted a year between college and getting into  trucking, but now that I’m in trucking, I know this is what I’ll always do.  So looking back, I’d rather not have wasted that year.  Other than that, everything I went through as a kid, all the teasing, the picking on, everything else, I kinda like – well, given the superiority complex and narcissism, I really like who I am, and I’d rather not be anyone else.  So I don’t see changing anything other than that one year I missed. 

FM: Okay, and second advice question:  What advice would you give to people like myself who would hope to be helpful to young people as they make the decision about staying where they were raised, or not, that would make it easier for them, or help there be a better outcome, whatever…

That’s a tough one.  Every situation is going to be too different to give a blanket piece of advice.  As a general rule, I don’t give blanket advice.  Generally I give advice on a case-by-case basis; I can’t give blanket advice.  It goes against my basic philosophy.  You give blanket advice, it’s not going to suit everyone.  I can form an overall opinion, which is that whoever is going to do whatever, they should do what they feel is right.  Because generally human instinct is the better indicator of how things should go.  If you go against your instinct, you’re apt to end up in a bad spot.  If I had to – gun to my head – give a piece of advice, it would be just support whoever is making the decision on the basis they’re going to do it one way or the other, and if you force them to do something different, they’re going to resent it, and that’s not a good way to go through life. 

FM: Okay.  That’s it for me.  Anything else?

Just a general comment.  I’m not entirely certain what all these administrators are going to recommend, but one the things they have to keep in mind is there’s not a lot of things around for young people, whether it be people my age, a little older, a little younger.  We don’t have youth centres, we don’t have good jobs to keep younger people around.  The kids my age-ish that stick around usually have trouble finding housing.  Unfortunately this has always been and will always be a retirement community unless something is done that will make it more accessible for young people.  A lot of my friends have moved away on the simple fact that there is not the basic opportunities that they need in order to stay.  Quite a few of my friends in the city now say they are going to retire up here, possibly even move up here in the later years in their careers when they’ve got a young family.  But they won’t move up here now, because there’s not the opportunities for the careers they’re in now.  It’s a great place to raise kids, just not a place for jobs.  For my generation-ish. 

FM: What kind of work could you envision being developed up here that would provide a decent job?

Unfortunately, up here, anything that would be a good career for people would turn Cottage County into a small city.  Like most of my friends are into retail, office jobs, the sort of thing that we just don’t have around here.  Like if someone were to open up a call centre up here, I can see careers there.  If a development firm opened offices here, and as much as it pains me to say it, if there were more large retailers here.  I hate the fact that city people are turning this into a city away from the city, unfortunately you asked what careers were needed and that’s what needed. 

FM: Lemme explore that a bit – how do you think the city people are turning this into a city away from a city?

Well, in the last 10 years, we’ve gotten a Subway, a Tim Hortons, a Canadian Tire, a Mark’s Work Wear House and we’re supposed to be getting a Dairy Queen and there’s been what I call cookie-cutter house developments, all of which have been started and kept going by city people with city ties.  City people come up and say we want this and we want that, and they seem to want a small city hub within convenient distance from their play house.  And they don’t really care that locals have to deal with the development all year around. 

To put it quite simply, I have the same attitude that all the kids my age do:  if you want to come up and cottage, that’s fine, but have the respect for the people that live here and don’t try to change the place we live just to suit them.  We like it the way it is, and if you don’t, get the F out. 

FM: That’s the seasonal residents.  How do you feel about people like myself who move up here for the last stages of their careers, or to retire?

That’s the thing there; people like you come up here and become locals.  You came up here because you like it up here, I’m assuming – you like it the way it is, the way you see it.  You don’t try to twist it into some fantasy cityscape country monstrosity. 

FM: Okay.  Anything more?  

Not really.  That’s about as far – I’m not good at volunteering information.  I’m good at answering questions.  I’m not good at just talking non stop.  One of the things my grandfather said is Remember the power of information.  Never give it away for free.  Just talking at whim isn’t one of my usual habits. 

FM: Well your grandfather would be happy to know that you’re getting paid $40 for your information, for which I thank you.  It’s an important perspective to have in the pack.