Christmas eve, 2017, around six. So far the vibe has been upbeat – passengers in high spirits, a few perhaps full of spirits. I get a job in Ultimo. When I see an Asian dude in his thirties overloaded with gear, I jump out. One bag is especially challenging to get into the back of my Mazda – gotta be skis. Once we manage to fit everything in, I ask if he’s headed for the snow. “Yes,” he replies in an Aussie accent, “I’m off to Canada.” This of course sets me off on my much told spiel: how I was born in the Rocky Mountains, lived nine years in Canada but had my first downhill skiing experience in Australia in my mid thirties. My passenger nods, not seeming to give a shit. In fact, there’s something a bit off about his whole manner. I ask why he decided to leave now, destined to spend Christmas in the sky. “I only booked the trip yesterday.” “Really?” He nods lazily. “Yep. One-way ticket.” “Ah – not planning on coming back?” He shakes his head. “Nothing to come back to.” Oh-oh – sounds ominous. He continues. “I’ve worked non-stop for the last ten years. No holidays. No breaks. Had a little bar in George Street. But then the bastards start building the light rail. No one can get to my bar. So I have to lay off loyal staff who’ve been with me for years.” “Ah, sorry to hear that mate.” He shrugs. “Yeah, well, then my fiancé tells me it’s over and leaves me.” I grip the steering wheel. “Bloody hell!” He sighs. “So there’s nothing to keep me here. I’ll go to Canada, ski myself silly and then… who knows. Might volunteer in some developing country for awhile. Not coming back here though. Fuck the place.” We get to the airport and unload his gear. I wish him luck. Driving away, I can’t help but admire someone who’s willing to completely reboot his life. I hope it works.



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joe's cousin

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