Biscuits and Gravy: The Brakeman
It seemed to be the perfect legacy for me. I had long been a fan of the Disney film Cool Runnings, but never once thought I would actually for one seethe places in the movie, but for two live the film itself. It may sound a bit preposterous, but you’ll see exactly what I mean. From first arrival I always quoted the film and I never really stopped to think about how it truly fit into an explanation of my experiences in Canada.
For those of you who haven’t been privileged to see the film, I would suggest you take a glance. The basic premise is of the origins of the Jamaican Bobsled team that competed in the Winter Olympics in Calgary during 1988. A wonderful story and as hilarious as a city glamor girl in pig slop.
Now, I always had the habit of quoting the film but when I first arrived to Canada it seemed that I was destined to follow in its footsteps. Just like in the film I arrived, took one step out of the airport terminal doors and turned right back around having frozen to the core. Albeit it was the middle of June, and I did in fact have a jacket, I still froze and shivered relentlessly as I rushed to the car, just to drive through a deserted dirt field forcing me to ponder if I had just arrived at Area 51, but I digress.
Time after time, I coined the popular phrase from the movie as I wondered about in the frigid cold of an Edmonton summer, ” I’m freez in’ my royal Rastafarian nay-nays off!”
Of course, it would get a good cackle out of people but I was sincere to my frozen bones. Now, I thought that the similarities would stop there. Despite going through Calgary and seeing the Olympic sled run, all the spots shown in the film and all, but alas it didn’t. One Christmas, likely one of the roughest on record for me, I got two Christmas presents. One was a joyful Christmas card from the Canadian government advising that I was being deported. Albeit I didn’t get the letter till the day after Christmas, but quite still the point.
We had decided to spend Christmas at a hotel literally across the street from the 1988 Winter Olympics Bobsled run at Calgary Olympic Park. And, the day before, I got a Christmas present from my gold medal. What else but a ticket to ride the bobsled down the frozen, cold, slippery and in my opinion crazy sled run.
Well, I didn’t have an egg to kiss and I certainly wasn’t sporting dreadlocks, but when it came time to board the bullet shaped sled I volunteered, like an idiot, to sit in the brakeman’s seat. For those who don’t know, the brakeman sits at the very back, where there is no rail to hold you in, pulls the most G force out of all the team, and is just generally more terrified than everyone else on the run.
Piling in with our lady driver, no pun intended, we shoved off down the icy shoot. Now I would like to say I was cheerful, kept full composure and didn’t half pass out from the sheer terror but momma also said never to lie and let’s be honest, momma always knows.
I prayed to about every name for God imaginable that I could think of as we tore down the tube, all the while thinking to myself the sled was appropriately shaped like a bullet, given that I may have just committed Christmas present suicide.
Yet, in the end, we made it safely to the end, despite the fact I thought my head was going to rip off it’s hinge from all the G force exer ted upon my neck. Impressively, one girl and three fat guys, including myself in case you’re wondering, made it down with a top speed of 120 kilometers per hour and a time of a little over 60 seconds.
Surprisingly, we almost would have qualified for the 1988 Winter Olympics, but for me, my Cool Runnings experience had come full circle.
My trek to the great wild white yonder had culminated with a legendary experience of the bobsled. It made me think that despite all my own personal misgivings or failings, I began to think that there wasn’t much in the way of experiences that I could shy away from.
You see, so many people these days simply float through their own existence without chance, without a risk of adventure that it pains me to think of what they are truly living for. Life is all about the experiences that we fill it with, and the risks that we take to see the doors of life open up for us to offer their splendor.