Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Innocents On The Road (Running Away To Canada-Part Two)

Innocents On The Road.

First of all, I woke up at 4am with "Toronto!" shouting in my head. So, I have to correct my error. We landed in Toronto--not Quebec City. I have always been bad with names, labels, and time. This just proves it--LOL! Anyways, I couldn't get back to sleep so I got up and googled maps. We had gone up through Duluth...through Grand Marais...crossed the border and into Thunder Bay...drove along the lakes...and ended up in Toronto. I kept thinking Quebec, but that is because Anita and I actually made it to the province of Quebec when we hitch-hiked to Montreal.

Yes, Anita and I were feeling so guilty about being a burden to the guys that we decided to take off on our own. Alan and Tim told us we could come back any time and seemed a little worried about us taking off by ourselves. It was a different time, though, and kids were hitch-hiking everywhere. Alan gave me a map of Canada and they let me take most of the money that was left since they could work and I had donated the most into the pot. (I remember it was over a hundred dollars I had saved from my job at the Pet Ranch.)
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I was too tired to tell "the rest of the story" (anyone else remember Paul Harvey?) yesterday. So--here goes...the misadventures of the missing day in Canada...
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This is so long ago now that I can't remember if the guys gave us a ride to the highway outside of town, but I think they did. This was 43 years ago and I've been suffering from fibro fog for the past ten--LOL! I just remember Anita and I hitching rides east. We never had to stand there long. Guys seemed more than willing to pick up a couple girls with their thumbs out on the side of the road. The weather was nice. We got a couple short rides and then a longer one with a nice young guy who bought us both cheeseburgers and packs of cigarettes, was fun to chat with, and never hassled us once! But he finally wasn't going any further and we were on the side of the road again...waving goodbye to him.
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It was late afternoon when a car stopped with two older men who looked Middle Eastern. (Well, they were older to us--maybe in their 30s.) They were talking to each other in some foreign language, didn't seem all that friendly, or even to pay much attention to us. But the one man said, "Are you getting in?" We were on a long stretch of empty road and weren't sure how far the next town was...Anita and I looked at each other, shrugged, and got in the back seat. We felt pretty safe because the two men didn't even seem interested in the least. In fact, they didn't look at us or speak to us. Just chatted in their language and ignored us. We relaxed.
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They pulled into gas station later and asked us if we were hungry...offered to buy us something to eat. At first I refused. There was something odd about how they would not give you eye contact that bothered me. And they seemed to subtly enjoy the fact they could talk and we didn't have a clue what they were saying to each other. (Learn to trust your gut instincts!) I could tell Anita was agreeable to some food...and, true, we didn't know when we would eat next and didn't want to use the cash if we could help it...so we agreed. This was all non-verbal communication between Anita and I because we didn't know how much English they understood and didn't want to be talking about them or our cash in the back seat, right? We just sat silently, watching the backs of their heads, listened to their strange language and music, and watched Canada roll by the window as the sun set behind us.
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I had been kind of dozing in the darkness when I suddenly realized we were on a dirt road. Anita looked just as puzzled. I tried to ask them where we were going, but they conveniently didn't understand English and ignored us. They took this dirt road out into the country, parked beside a farmer's field of some kind, got out, opened the back doors, and kind of took our arms to help us out of the car. Anita and I were peering around in the darkness...expecting to see a farmhouse, maybe some place that they planned to stay the night, or lived, or something since they had seemed to know exactly where they were going like they were familiar with the area. But there was nothing. Nothing but crickets.
****
They led us off in different directions and suddenly...well...this guy was all over me! Aggressively! And when I wasn't accommodating he got angry and pushed me down on the ground. I assumed the same thing was happening to Anita. I had been raped before, so the fear aspect dissipated quickly. I was furious! It dawned on me that they had just assumed that we were slutty young girls who owed them because they bought us some fast food. Maybe it was a cultural thing, I don't know, but they really pissed me off! How dare they! The struggle went on for what seemed like forever, but it was just a few minutes. I hit. He hit. I slapped. He slapped...and grabbed my ankles and was trying to pin them up beside my head. I bit. Hard. He quit. Thank God!
****
He was thoroughly disgusted with me...and angry...stood up and called to the other man as I yelled for Anita. She looked disheveled, too, as they kind of pushed us into the back seat of the car again and angrily conversed in their native tongue. I was thrilled I had apparently become too much trouble. ;)
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Next thing we were back on the highway and it turned out we weren't all that far away from a big town. They drove us into a dimly lit, seedier looking part of town and dumped us off like so much trash...laughing as they drove away.
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But we were thrilled to be out of that car and away from those creepy men! We spilled our stories, grabbing each other's forearms...so glad to be free of them! But then we had to figure out where we were and what to do. We walked down the block to a phone booth on the corner and discovered we were in Montreal, as we suspected, at two in the morning. I decided to call the police.
****
I explained that we were Americans, we'd been hitch-hiking, two Middle Eastern men picked us up, fed us, and then tried to attack us in a field...then dropped us off in town. The officer, in that charming accent, asked me where exactly we were located. I told Anita to go over and look for a street sign. I relayed the information to the policeman on the phone. He said, "well, there's a street light right there, isn't there?"
"Yes."
"Well, go stand under it."
Click.
****
So much for the Canadian police. No better than the cops in Fridley blaming me when I was abducted off the street and raped. (They told me I shouldn't have been barefoot, wearing a tank top and tight shorts.)
****
Anita and I huddled together near the phone booth wondering what to do and which direction to go. I took out the map and was trying to see if it had a separate little street map of Montreal...when we heard whistling and footsteps.
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This young guy was strolling up the sidewalk, his hands in his pockets, a bounce to his step, and whistling like he was Fred Astaire in a movie. I imagine we must have looked nervous...and I had the tell-tale map in my hands. He started to talk to us in French. We told him we didn't speak French, so he said in English--"Are you lost?"
****
I told him we were Americans and, yes, we were lost.
"Have you no place to sleep?"
Apprehensive looks passed between Anita and I.
"Oh no...no...no", he laughed. "I live alone. Just me. You are safe. Can sleep on the couch till the morning." His voice was a little slurred and he was quite the happy drunk.
Well, there were two of us and we had just fended off a couple of fairly violent grown men...okay. We followed him a few blocks to his apartment in a wonderful old building with a courtyard.
****
He showed us the bathroom off his bedroom and we all took turns peeing. I noticed he had some women's things in the bathroom--like hair pins, lipstick, mascara--and yet he said he lived alone? Oddly, there was no door to his bedroom, just an archway. He had one of those sectional sofas that wrapped around the corner of the living room...conveniently, for us, near the front door. Plenty of room for Anita and I to lay down. He shut off his light to go to bed as we whispered in the dark.
****
Suddenly we heard him jumping on the bed. Honestly, that was our first impression. Whatever Mr. Inebriated Gymnast was doing in there by himself, it caused another suppressed giggle attack. He bounced and bounced for quite a while and then snored. We talked the rest of the night until morning...afraid to sleep...quietly making plans.
****
In the morning we slipped out at first light. I had found the way to the bus station on the map. We had just enough money to make it back to Toronto. Whew! We were so glad to see the guys, I tell you! And we had stories to tell. Well, I did. I was always the talker...the storyteller. Anita was the corroborator.
****
Innocents or idiots. A toss up, I suppose. ;)
****
Toronto was great. There was a huge park where people gathered. There was usually a cluster of people around various guitar players...sitting and lying about. Usually there was a couple or maybe two making out. Everything was so very clean. I swear nobody so much as dropped a gum wrapper. And the squirrels were black! Gorgeous black squirrels.
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There was a trailer home that was pulled in (on various streets, I believe) every morning. The American guys went in the front door and came out the back door with fake IDs and work visas. It was very organized...and mobile.
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There was this one street that was like the hippie street. It was filled with far out shops and blaring music. Every time I hear
this song from Midnight Cowboy...

...or Lay, Lady, Lay by Dylan (no video, just sound)...

...it brings me back to that street, the smell of grass and incense, and all those friendly people.
****
Oh, and Anita had a baby boy. :)

13 comments:

Stephen Hayes said...

What an adventure. I'm glad you two got away from those foreign guys. I remember being in Europe with my wife back in the early 70s and men looked at my wife like she was an ice cream cone they wanted to lick. I guess American movies made men around the world think American women were easy. Thanks for sharing your story.

Rita said...

It doesn't sound like, even today, that many of the Middle Eastern men really respect women and don't treat them like property. I think they thought American women were all just whores...period. We weren't even worth talking to or looking at. Only good for one thing. Worthless if we weren't even going to do their bidding. Really made me wonder how they would treat their wives if they gave them any grief, you know? Scary, violent men. Did not leave a good first impression. ;)

Toriz said...

Definitely a trip you wont forget!

I've been to Toronto... Well, the airport, anyway.

Rita said...

Tori--I was at the Toronto airport when we flew home, but it's so long ago I do't remember much about it. Airports look so similar--LOL! ;)

Jo-Anne's Rambling said...

Sounds like an adventure you are having now if I wanted to go to Toronto I would only just have to drive across a bridge..........yeah Toronto is a suburb of Newcastle where I live.......lol

Rita said...

JoAnne--That's really cool! To you, I was talking about your back yard--LOL! It was a beautiful town and a pretty area up there, as I recall. :) ;)

Snowbrush said...

I loved your account--which I read to Peggy--and I loved the music too. I'm glad you're still alive to write about all this. I too hitch-hiked a lot--and also rode freight trains--but too many weird experiences caused me to give it up.

Dee said...

Dear Rita, once again you have taken me to a time and place and experience that has never been part of my life history. Thank you for sharing this truly scary story of those two men. Like you, I have the same impression of Middle Eastern men as you shared in one of your comments. Women are property to them it seems and these masters have control over life and death.

You continue to be an inspiration to me. The height and depth and breadth of your experience is astounding.

When I start blogging again--on May 1--I hope to post the URL for these two stories you've told. I want all the people who read my blog to come to this one of yours. Peace.

Rita said...

Dee--Thank you so very much. Yes, you can like my stories. I'd be honored! :) :)

Craziness abounds said...

Oh Rita! Having been raped myself I totally get this post!
I am angry that the police told you it was your fault because of how you were dressed!
This post brought out a lot of emotions in me.

Rita said...

Oh Melynda! So sorry to hear that! My heart goes out to you and I understand what you went through. The police were chauvinistic and superior back then. I certainly hope they are better now. Bless you, Sweetie!

Melissa Ann Goodwin said...

Oh my goodness - what a story! I think angels do watch over us - the things we do when young that we think back on ... so glad you got away from those men.

Rita said...

Melissa--I worked my guardian angel overtime for many years!! ;)