St. John's, NL II

"You wouldn't hitchhike in America?" The 23 year-old girls are incredulous. They are traveling across Canada for the summer, mostly by car, but they have ditched their ride in a stranger's yard in Nova Scotia and now they are hitching across Newfoundland. "Not even as a guy? Really?" They walk out the front door, backpacks filled with clothes, cameras, fresh vegetables. They have no destinations planned, but one of their hands tightly clutches a sign that reads: WEST. "What are you so afraid of?" they asked.

The Fabricator used to work with metal. General construction jobs around the island. Like most Newfoundlanders, he went abroad to the mainland to earn money. Also like most Newfoundlanders, he hated life on the plains and returned home where there was, still, no work. So he decided to abandon his trade and return to school and for degrees in geology and teaching. After decades of spotty work, he is unemployed and not especially well off, financially. "There isn't a big need for geologists here, right?" In retrospect, he wishes that he hadn't have returned to school. Eking out a living through metal fabrication would have been difficult, but it couldn't have been any worse. He is not nostalgic about the value of education—he undertook school pragmatically in an effort to find a niche in a crippled economy. It was a gamble, a losing gamble, and he wonders how severely he damaged his prospects of retirement. Sitting in a chair in the middle of his brother's cluttered used appliance store, he coughs and stops speaking as his clear gray eyes scan the machines sitting in front of him.