Reel Vietnam – “My Accident”

Reel Vietnam – “My Accident”

by Cameron Brtnik

Excerpt from a letter I wrote to a friend in Taiwan just after moving to Vietnam

Speaking of accidents…

    I had a bad one last month (worst one since I started driving a motorbike in Asia). I was going about 50 km, which isn’t that fast in Taiwan. I was in a rush as it was a Monday morning and I was running late for a job interview. It was an old bike and I knew the brakes were shoddy, so I shouldn’t have been driving so fast in the first place.. but it totally wasn’t my fault. I was driving merrily along, and the car in front of me made a left turn – and suddenly there was this old dude on his motorbike just stopped in the middle of the goddamned road!

    Now that I’m more experienced I realize this “maneuver” is “normal” here. The back of his bike had about 100 boxes loaded on top of it. He was just sitting there like he was daydreaming, and I saw him too late… I tried to brake but the brakes were shit, so I swerved to miss him and flew off my bike like Superman… landing on the pavement with my entire body weight broken by my left hand. I got up and dusted myself off – seemingly fine due to the adrenalin coursing through my body – thankful I was alive and apparently uninjured, but furious… The guy actually stopped on the side of the road, but didn’t get off his bike to help. He just looked somewhat scared and confused (*note like in Taiwan locals are often scared of hitting foreigners). I then did something I’ve fantasized about since I started driving a motorbike: I walked right over to him and kicked his bike as hard as I could, tipping it along with him and his boxes over.. but he somehow caught his balance on one leg (these old dudes are strong!), then drove off.

    My bike was shattered and leaking gas, but miraculously it still worked. I defeatedly drove off and continued to my job interview.. and that’s when the adrenaline dissipated and the pain kicked it… It felt like my left hand was broken, so I drove myself directly to a hospital (where the doctor actually laughed at the frantic state I was in). It was extremely painful driving, but luckily my hand was only sprained. I wore a cast for two weeks. My hand is still healing and sore if I use it, but I’m sure it’ll fully heal. So there’s my accident story! On the plus side I now feel a lot more confident when I’m driving – It’s a different art altogether in Vietnam.

Your Taiwanese buddy, Cameron

Memories of JR: 1988-2013

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Memories of
 
JR: 1988-2013
 
     
     I knew JR for a short time in Panorama Mountain Village when I worked there, let’s see, 15 years ago now in Lusti’s Cappuccino Bar… I knew JR as the annoying kid who kept harassing me at work (I was 19, he was only 12). I would be making coffees for customers and he would visit, uninvited, and just constantly talk and ask me questions. But I realized I enjoyed his company – JR was like a younger version of myself – and we shared the same sense of humour. We would joke around when there were no customers around, and listen to music after work – mainly Eminem and the South Park Movie soundtrack. He would wait for me till I finished work and then he’d walk with me to my staff accommodations but no further, a “no-mans land” for kids his age. He was too young to hang out with, but he tried, and I admired that. I remember he was already a strong athlete, and competed in everything from skiing to motocross. He was also a very handsome dude, and I remember he asked lots of questions about girls; he was already fending off his wonderstruck female fans.
 
 
     I only just found out about his death, and its been three years… I was shocked, and saddened. He lived a fast life at a young age. I wish I knew him in his twenties as I’m sure we would have gotten along very well. I got to know his dad, Doug, quite well as he’s a musician and I was a rapper and we collaborated a couple times at T-Bar’s open mic nights. We both shared a love for music and people, and I remember him being a very charming and friendly man. I hope to visit Panorama soon, as it’s been over a decade since I’ve been back, and visit the MacRae family. I wish I could have hung out with JR one last time. Without knowing him as a young adult, I know he lived a fuller life than most of us do in a hundred year lifespan. I’d like to believe I was a role model for the young JR. Even though we had a respectable age difference, we treated each other as friends.
 
 
     For knowing JR for only one ski season, I will miss him, and keep him in my heart.
 
-Peace and love to family and friends,
Cameron
 
 
Below is a poem I wrote the day I discovered he passed (this past August). I picture performing this onstage at the T-Bar, collaborating with Doug on the flute:
 
“This is for JR – Even though you’re gone, you ain’t far / Even though you’re not here, won’t stay far; never disappear like a faint scar / And you will stay a star like a quasar, faster than a race car – vroom – off the radar / Most people work hard – You would play hard, I knew people later and you’re still greater than they are
 
Damn life is way hard, so we gotta communicate; human resources HR / You were the prodigal “sun,” another day gone, life’s a game of chance, you better play cards / So here’s another eight bars, sharp like knife’s edge, livin’ life on the edge like a skatepark / Not religious, but not a day goes by don’t pray for another day I see ya again, “Hey God”
 
Life’s a melody, gotta learn how to play guitar, sometimes it’s f&^%ed up, yeah it’s Rated R / Feel a pain in my stomach, hit like a paintball, oh shit I’m losing it, gotta stay calm… / Life is a game of pool until you sink the eight ball – but that means you win, so I think it ain’t all / that bad; Life is a dream that we eventually wake from, so JR I’ll see you later when I wake up….”