I’m writing this final installment of Take a Hike from the hospital.
I’m done. No more hikes. A walk can turn ugly too quickly. I realize this column is supposed to be light-hearted but there’s nothing funny about what happened today.
I thought it might be an interesting twist if this week I just approached someone already hiking – you know, a person out for a walk. I headed up South Albion towards the Trans-Canada and there was a hitchhiker making his way into town.
Middle-aged, plain-faced, quiet smile. He had a big backpack, said he’d been on the road a while. Great. I explained what I was doing, he agreed to participate – “Bruce,” he said, when I asked his name – and we picked our topic: technology/science.
I was upfront about my lack of professional experience in the field, but I’ve always felt my exceptional skills in deductive reasoning make me a natural when it comes to spouting opinions about things I know little about.
“Science will save us,” I said as we walked.
“Or damn us,” said Bruce.
My companion said science is a double-barreled gun, with one barrel pointing back at the shooter.
“Except when you pull the trigger, you never know when it will shoot you instead of the target,” he said.
It was a clumsy analogy, not to mention inaccurate, and I told him as much. Conversation stalled. Bruce’s face was red. I decided to cut the tension.
“It’s OK that you’re wrong,” I said. “People who disagree with me usually are.”
I explained how genetic engineering will allow us to create evolution in laboratories, and how we’ve just begun to explore the powers of nature’s forces, like solar and gamma radiation.
“I hate when people say things like genetically modified foods are unnatural. Everything is made of atoms. It’s all natural. We’re animals, and the things we make are as natural as the waste produced by a creature of the forest.”
“So the failed Japanese nuclear reactor in Fukushima is deer poop?” Bruce asked.
His face wasn’t red anymore. Now his colour looked off, like he was feeling sick.
“Precisely,” I said. “You’re smarter than you look. Not that you look very stupid.”
He frowned at the compliment.
“I have a bit of a background in science, actually,” he said. “I was a researcher: Dr. Bruce Banner.”
As if throwing around a title would intimidate me.
“It’s a free country, doctor. You may have a PhD in this stuff, but that doesn’t make your opinion any more valid than mine.”
He scowled. He looked really sick. Green almost.
“Don’t make me angry,” he said. “You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.”
“Don’t make me angry,” I said, mimicking his voice. “No pal, doctor, you don’t want to make ME angry. I have a PhD in character assassination, and if I want to make you look like a buffoon when…”
That’s the last thing I remember. Now there’s a telephone pole sticking out of my chest.
Disclaimer: Take a Hike is a mix of fact and fiction. Eric’s guest may or may not have said what appears in this column. It’s probably best you assume s/he didn’t.