The Long and Winding Road to Chibougamau … with Phil.

We picked up Phil on the way to Chibougamau to attend an evening of music and dining organized by a group of teachers. It was cold, so very, very cold. He stood at the intersection of 167, at the cut-off to Mistissini, waving a flashlight.

We stopped and I rolled down the window. He is freezing, his facial hair crusted with ice whiskers.

Here is the conversation:

Me:  Where you going?

Phil:  To town. To Chibougamau.

Me:  Come on, get in.

Phil:  I’m Phil. Who are you?

We introduce ourselves.

Phil:  It’s cold. Thank you for stopping.

Me:  No problem.

Phil:  I’m Phil. What are our names?

We reintroduce ourselves.

Phil:  What do you teach?

Andy:  I teach cabinet making.

Phil:  What grade do you teach (to me).

Me:  I am not a teacher. I am here with Andy.

Phil:  So what grade do you teach?

(Repeat previous conversation)

Phil:  I’m Phil and what are your names?

This conversation went on for the rest of our car ride.

Phil:  Can I open my pop?

Me:  Sure, go ahead.

(sound of pop can opening, only it smelled not like pop, but like beer)

A few more rounds of introductions ensued and questions of what we teach.

Phil:  I’ve gotta piss.

Me:  Andy, stop the car, Phil has to pee.

We stop the car.

Andy (to me):  It’s going to be a long, long, ride into Chibougamau.

Phil (tapping my shoulder). Do you smoke?

Me:  No, I don’t and there’s no smoking in the car. Andy has Asthma.

Phil:  Oh.  You don’t smoke?

He asked us repeatedly if we smoked, as he obviously wanted cigarettes, and repeatedly, we told him no.

We surmised that Phil lives alone at camp, where he says he likes to be alone and drink.  His plans were to go into Chibougamau and to buy beer and hitch back to his camp to drink it.

We stopped in front of the Bistro at Chibougamau as he requested.

Before getting out of the car, he shook our hands again and introduced himself and asked our names.

We then watched Phil stagger across the street to the Depanneur, presumably to buy cigarettes and beer.


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