Bill

Days: 384 (14 July 2015)

Total distance travelled: 96,764.66 kilometres (60,102.27 miles)

I’ve often said (or at the very least thought it to myself) that travel is all about the people that you meet.

Meet Bill.

Bill lives in Thunder Bay, Ontario (Canada).

He has a cheeky sense of humour and dislikes snakes.

Bill also suffers from palsy.

I’m not certain however, that ‘suffers’ is the correct term, as more appropriate would be he is afflicted.

It was on our second day out of Toronto that we met Bill, so we’d probably only covered around sixteen hundred of the roughly five thousand kilometres of what many had labelled a crazy bus journey.

The scenic wilds of northern Ontario

The scenic wilds of northern Ontario

For much of his adult life, Bill apparently lived in various facilities, changed only as government funding increased or decreased (the current Harper conservative government has made life very difficult for those with disabilities by all accounts).

Turns out he didn’t have to.

We sit and we ponder which plane we’ll catch to whatever country for our next adventure.

Bill’s great adventure is that he now lives alone, independently in his very own apartment, with only occasional assistance from carers who will come and assist.

On our bus from Thunder Bay to Winnipeg (going to visit his sister and her five children), Bill was just happy to simply talk with us (other than his friend and acting carer Cheryl, nobody else on our bus spoke to Bill during the whole journey… which was a shame, as Bill loved to talk).

Repetition. Lakes and trees...

Repetition. Lakes and trees…

About twenty minutes after what was I’m sure a ‘healthy’ lunch stop (the Greyhound service seems to schedule its rest stops around either a Tim Hortons donut shop, or McDonalds), a loud bang was heard beneath the bus and a short time later we were on the side of the highway with an overheated engine.

The bus soon emptied as it began to heat up (due to the air-conditioning only running when the doors were closed, not due to a fire or anything crazy).

Trouble in Moose Creek...

Trouble in Moose Creek

Bill, confined to his motorized wheelchair, could do no such thing.

He stoically sat there whilst news of a broken fan belt and cracked bearings confirmed we were going nowhere anytime soon.

When another bus appeared behind, after some attempts at makeshift repairs which ultimately came to naught, we were eventually told to transfer vehicles (at least those of us that had connections).

But not Bill.

Needing a bus that was wheelchair capable (ours obviously was, but this fresh arrival was not), he and Cheryl would have to wait around five hours longer for a bus to come all the way from Thunder Bay!

When Cheryl had asked Bill how he was when the bus first stopped, he’d said “It could always be worse.”

Outside, Cheryl gave each of us a warm hug as we said our goodbyes.

I think she was grateful we’d engaged Bill as a person, not as an inconvenience.

The last we saw of Bill, he was patiently sitting in his chair.

He was smiling as I waved goodbye.

Bill didn’t mean to be, nor do I think he even realised it, but Bill was pretty inspirational…

 

Notes:

* Our buses (for there were many that made up this journey) from Toronto to Whitehorse cost a ridiculously cheap $253.12 CAN for the two of us (because we booked well in advance).

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13 Responses to Bill

  1. David says:

    Nice writing Chris.

  2. Pingback: The True North | theworldwithchrisandsarah

  3. Mar Pages says:

    Bill does sound inspiring. What a lovely story 🙂 Great photos as well, like shots from an old movie.

  4. What a lovely story indeed. Love the old effect you have put on your pictures!!

  5. klipdrifters says:

    Sounds like Bill is quite the inspiration. Love your pictures, they tell the story so well. Thank you for sharing!

  6. Vyjay Rao says:

    Bill is really inspirational. Encounters like these are what makes travel so endearing and uplifting at the same time. I remembered a boy whom I had met in a train a long time ago. He could not speak, his body was wasted, but his eyes shone with the brilliance of the sun and he smiled and really lived. I agree Suffer is not the word at all.

  7. I have strong faith in humanity whenever I encounter such post. I really love that you guys approached Bill with an open mind!

  8. Pingback: If We Could Only Read One of Your Posts … Which One? – GALLIVANCE

  9. Chris, this is beautiful … and powerful. Bill is truly an inspirational person with an amazing attitude. I will be sure to remind myself that “It could always be worse.”
    This post is also a whole other side of you as a writer that I really enjoy. Your keen observation of people is a real strength. I look forward to more “Bill Stories.” 🙂 ~Terri

    • Chris says:

      You really are too kind Terri!

      Over the years I’ve certainly drifted in and out of blog activity, but yours and James’ remains one of the more interesting (and certainly communal) ones out there! I’m sure you’re both a continual inspiration to many as well.

      As always, safe travels, Chris

  10. Erica/Erika says:

    Nice to meet you, Chris. I am visiting from Terri and James blog, “Gallivance.” I began reading some of your very interesting and visually beautiful posts. I have subscribed to your blog and I look forward to reading more.

    This is an interesting post about an inspirational man with a great attitude, who happens to have palsy. Goosebumps when Bill said “It could always be worse.” Your story reminds me of a patient I loved to see, who also happened to have palsy (I worked in a dental office for a long time). I knew I was going to have a good day when she came in. She was smart, wise, kind, accommodating and she always had a wonderful attitude. Thank you for reminding me about her. A great post! (An aside: looking at your Notes: it looks like you were heading to Whitehorse. We lived there for four years. Coincidentally, the post I submitted to Terri and James is one of my experiences in Whitehorse)

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