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10# The easy way out

Updated: Dec 29, 2020

They've been working for four hours already! That's at least $400 plus parts, then taxes. What the fuck is taking so long?

I was torturing myself mentally, even the $3000 massage chair had no effect. The temperature in Montreal had dropped to 0. My parents had left the winter, and Ibra too. It's as if la Chichona had been patiently plotting against me. As soon as Ibra left, she fell apart.

I had been Ibra's assitant for three months, and thought I would be able to tackle mechanical issues… I wasn't. On the highway, the accelerator stopped working. I pulled over to the emergency lane. Then, I did this thing we all do when downright clueless. I stared under the hood and prayed for a miracle. Yet another problem I couldn't handle.

Few mechanics in Montreal work on Sprinter vans. They either lack the skills, the gear or the time. I ended up with the only option available. Mécanique Expert (MEC) in the little town of Beloeil, 45min east of Montreal.

MEC is not your regular garage. There is no dirt on the ground or tools hanging around. The entrance looks like a spa and you are not allowed in the garage. They have their own building with several waiting rooms, each with a distraction. Desktops to work, a home cinema and even a Zen room with massage chairs.

The folks there wear branded uniforms and speak in technical jargon. An oil change sounds scarier than a neurosurgery. They insist on telling you that they can't predict the outcome of their work, nor how long it would take. Your only option is to wait and hope for the best. Oh, and one last thing, they charge by the hour. $100/h + taxes but only $75 if you pay the annual membership.

I had no other option so I bit the bullet. I sat down and waited, imagining all the ways it could go wrong. Torn between self-flagellation and anxiety, I empathized. I related with people waiting for their loved ones in the hospital. That paralyzing feeling of helplessness. I was worrying myself sick over a rusty piece of junk. How hard must it be for them? It's like playing the lottery, where the winning ticket is a heavy bill and a temporary relief.

For the past few months, I had been working day and night to build la Chichona. Yet, I couldn't see the end of it. Repetitive failures and unexpected problems made me bitter and anxious. The repairs at MEC ended up costing me half the price of the van, talk about budgeting! I was in debt, ten times more than I had ever been. My boss had been put on furlough and my remote job was compromised. I was homeless, in debt and now this. Hahaha what's next universe?

One day the CEO of Shitty Sugar raged because one office was empty. Logically, he cancelled the remote work policy for everyone, like a smart, mature toddler. A colleague of mine had to put her mom in a healthcare facility because she could no longer take care of her at home. I could return to the office, or lose my job.

No job meant ending the adventure with a crippling debt and going back to the 9 to 5 prison… I told my boss I would relocate so Human Resources could start the administrative process. Shitty Sugar was holding me by the balls. I submitted.

I was working under Canadian laws and Canada isn't the US. They couldn't fire me on a whim. I mentioned to HR that I would discuss the relocation terms with my lawyer to lay the ground ahead. I was willing to extend that steady paycheck at any cost, at least until I got out of debt.

Being broke sucks! Social activities include eating, drinking or doing something fun. I couldn't afford any of that. A beer in a bar became a 2"x4" I could use for the kitchen. The worst was the shame. I was too embarrassed so I avoided social gatherings altogether, isolating myself even more.

Loneliness and hardship create a molotov cocktail of negative emotions. They sent my mind into a vortex of dark thoughts. I had nightmares of la Chichona catching fire, nightmares of breaking down on the highway. Unconsciouly, I had built a mental prison of constant worry, chewing and spitting resentment and hate like a cowboy spits tobacco.

Marijuana has this amazing ability to free your mind from worry. When you're high, you do not think about the future. You are immersed in the present. Your body relaxes and tensions dissolve for a time. No wonders it helps cure depression, chronic pain and epilepsy.

I started smoking weed as a coping mechanism. For a little while, I did not worry. For a little while, there was no Chichona, no debt and no disappointment. By lack of a better option, weed became my easy way out.


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