I grew up on a small farm in Saskatchewan and wanted to do something away from what I knew. Sound familiar? The local rural newspaper had many help wanted ads and I answered one. The ad was for an assistant with a known conservationist from Alberta. No names, just looking for an assistant to travel to Maritimes. I called and got a call back, from an assistant to the conservationist. They were looking for someone on short notice and although they had some reservations about me they would like to offer me the job.
The next morning in drives a station wagon into my families farm yard, with a Cheetah in the back. Out comes Al Oeming, a man my fathers age, who talks to my father for a bit and then off I go! So the job was to assist Mr. Oeming in his presentations for funding his Cheetah breeding program. There were guaranteed speaking appointments in Nova Scotia.
The Cheetah was amazing, beautiful and spectacular eyes. It was kept in the back of the station wagon that had a base of layers of area carpet.
We stopped at small towns on the way and each stop I helped to sell small items of cards, caps, and I don’t remember what else. I do mean at each stop we made, I was prompted to sell items, this included; fuelling the station wagon, and stopping for a meal. I was an assistant to a roadshow hawker!
I had a couple of lectures because I have never been much of a salesperson. We were on a tight schedule and drove a couple of nights. Oh I should say Al drove a couple of nights and days straight as I was not allowed to drive. I could drive a truck, swather, combine, car, or motorcycle on the farm but a station wagon with a Cheetah was out of my range…
The adventure feeling moved on to a feeling of ick being in this situation. My moralistic leanings of my youth felt their breaking point when my employer met a woman at a gas station of a small town. The woman was thrilled to see the Cheetah and asked if we could come to her daycare and show the kids. The response she got was an affirmative and that we would be right over. The reality was we got in the car and drove away from the small town. When I questioned him on this the answer I got was there being no way he would go to a daycare as they had no money to buy anything.
I then started to try to leave the traveling roadshow but had to wait till he could write me a check or something. Ended up in a small town by the Maine border with no job and not a flippin clue on how to get home.
The bus wasn’t scheduled to be there the day I needed it so I decided to hitch hike. Scared shitless but needing to find a way home I stuck our my thumb for the first time. Thankfully a delivery truck man took pity on me and let me drive with him to Saint John New Brunswick.
Once in Saint John I hopped on the Grey Hound after cashing my paycheque and headed home to the Prairies. Moral of the story; a Cheetah and a station wagon don’t make a good adventure in the end.