I hear the muffled sniggers and see the puzzled looks. It’s hard to be certain whether it’s disdain or pity I see in their eyes when, on those rare occasions, they’re too slow in averting their slackjawed gaze and I catch them in the act of staring… in utter disbelief. There is about them a general sense — and a rare sense at that — of outright superiority my mere presence swells in their beleaguered chests. There is also a sense of cultural dislocation, a suspicion perhaps that I don’t belong here.
They’re probably right about that.
I suspect it is more or less the same thing really fat tourists feel in Whistler when the lean machines resident in town take time out from running marathons, swimming across local lakes or riding their bikes up Wedge to suck back a soy latte and munch a bean sprout on a local patio while they chow down on a BlackcombBurger, double fries and a couple of beers. What kind of weird place is this and why in the world don’t these poor, skinny people who live here have a Cinnabon outlet in this quaint, if uncomfortably pedestrian-oriented, village?
It takes a certain kind of idiot to drive a small truck in the Cariboo. I am that idiot.
The Cariboo — either a misspelling of Caribou perpetrated by an early, British factotum and perpetuated by a culturally stubborn unwillingness to admit mistakes, or a fanciful play on Halloween in the Caribbean, a locale this part of B.C. is frequently mistaken for — is a big land peopled by big characters who all drive Big trucks. Whether you frequently haul half-tonne round bales of hay in the back or rarely haul anything bigger than a plastic sack of groceries, Big trucks are a sign of belonging, of understanding and proudly proclaiming your sense of place. One-tonne dualies are de rigueur and are, often as not, whipped through parking lots by petite real estate agents with the speed and agility of an Indy car pulling into the pits.
Real men drive real trucks and real trucks in the Cariboo are Big trucks made even Bigger with the addition of spring kits, lifters, dual adjustable air shocks at all four corners and tires more frequently seen on earth-moving machines. Real men do not use ladders to climb into these trucks unless they’ve passed the age where they’d be required to collapse their RRSPs into RIFs, if any of them believed in such effete nonsense as RRSPs. Ingress to their trucks requires the same strength and agility and more or less the same moves required to mount a high horse. This is the land where men are men and chaps are just funny pants. Giddyup, cowboy.