Thursday, December 9, 2010

The story checks out. Sort of.

Hello from America's beer and cheese capital: Wisconsin (burp). Excuse me.

Over the course of our 13,000 mile drive Alex has regaled us with stories from his nearly six decades of marching to the beat of his own drum. The stories - some in the book, some "in the next book" - are wild. The tales get so wild, and there are so many of them that a guy gets to wondering: could these all be true?

Alex often claims that his book is the "first and only time a trucker has told the truth." I can testify that the timelines of his stories have all checked out. It has seemed as though he's a straight shooter when it comes to the historical record. Until we pulled into Minnesota.

We had a visit from an old Yellowknifer, Robb Olexin, who has relocated to Minnesota for his work. He stopped in to surprise Alex with a visit. Robb and Alex used to play broomball against each other. The most interesting thing about Robb's visit is that it gave us a chance to scrutinize Alex's version of history.

Alex had told us a story about cuffing a guy who wouldn't stop chirping at him during a broomball game. Turns out the guy who got cuffed was Robb Olexin. According to Alex's version, he was on his way to the penalty box for something else when Robb got in his face and wouldn't stop yapping. A stiff backhand was delivered and Robb made a lot less noise. A totally believable sequence of events.

I decided to interview Robb and asked about the incident. His memory (slightly weakened by the concussion he likely had), was different than Alex's. Robb claims he took a face-off against Alex and before he knew what was going on, Alex had drilled him. Dazed, he says, he reeled towards Alex petitioning for an explanation and possibly an apology. Robb says it was the second crack of Alex's big hand on his jaw that turned the lights out. Also a totally believable sequence of events.

Thinking I had Alex on the ropes and that I could say "hey, there's a hole in your story!" I asked him how the two stories could be so different. "Simple," he said, "Robbie and I tangled a bunch of times." I asked Robb. The story checks out.

Despite the old rivalry it was awesome to have a chance to meet Robb and see him heckle Alex, yet again, about being a bit slow out there on the broomball ice.

We're getting close to the end of the tour here. Enjoying every last minute of it. I'll post again before we're done.


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