It was a bad week in Tulita. It was a bad couple of weeks. There was a plane crash last week. All six on board were killed. One of the people was a fellow from Tulita. It all started the week before that, when several people from Fort Good Hope were killed in a boating accident. Some guy who just got out of jail thought it would be a good idea to go drinking and boating on the Mackenzie. He killed himself and two others. One made it to shore alive.
When there’s a funeral in this area, a lot of people go. So planeloads of people from the surrounding communities showed up in Good Hope for the funeral. The plane that crashed was full of people leaving Good Hope after the funeral.
So on Thursday they held a funeral for the fellow from Tulita who was killed. He had a wife and three young kids. I recognized him from the store as soon as I saw pictures. He worked for the phone company. He had even been in our old house to hook up our phone.
I also had seen the pilot around. He was one of the young kids who fly for the local airline. I think he was the guy who flew us into Tulita. Chances are it was even the plane we had flown in, because they only have one six-seater, and they only use it when the other planes are full or unavailable.
I waited on the phone guy’s daughter in the days after the accident. She came into the store, like she does almost every day, to buy candy. I used to tease her. I’d ask her for ID if she were buying Popeye candy cigarettes. You get to know certain kids (the nice ones at least) and joke with them. But I wasn’t sure what to say to her this time. So I just tried to smile and ring in her hot chocolate.
One day after the store had closed, they brought his body back to town. I saw a truck go by with the casket on back. There were about eight guys sitting on back with it, as if they were helping move furniture or lumber. That truck was followed by almost every other truck in town.
On the day of the funeral, we closed the store in the afternoon out of respect for the family. Now people from all the other communities were coming to Tulita for this funeral. I served dozens of strangers. They bought a lot of junk food and magazines for the plane ride back.
Things are slowly returning to normal for most of the town now. It’s my day off. I don’t know where the day went. I tried to get up at a decent hour so I could savour my free time. But here it is, nine o’clock. All we really did was take the dog for a long walk to Great Bear River. She is getting a lot bigger, and she is starting to behave. She was bad for biting, but rolled up newspapers have broken her of that habit.
This may be my last Sunday off for a while. Next Sunday, the store is supposed to open for the afternoon. At least I’ll get to sleep in one day a week. Legally, I think I’m entitled to 24 continuous hours of rest per week. I may have to contact a lawyer. If I was getting paid hourly and making my overtime hours, I’d already be rich. But you’ll be surprised what you’ll put up with when your employer is also your landlord. Don’t get me wrong: I enjoy my job. But free time is nice too.
I’m thinking about getting dial up. I have no other expenses, and I’d like to get back in touch with the world. Maybe this week I’ll call and get an account.