Urban Camping


Back in November of 2009, Weasel boy was planning a trip to Alberta to bring home a pickup truck he had been given. He only had his "Novice" drivers license though, not a full fledged class 5. So before driving in another province he had to take his driving test at our government-owned insurance/licensing corporation, ICBC. The only problem was scheduling the test. The lack of competition resulting from the BC Government mandating ICBC's insurance on vehicles has allowed them to grow fat and lazy. As a result, there's a waiting list of THREE MONTHS to take a driving test. Weasel boy didn't have that kind of time. His only option was to show up at an ICBC center and hang around all day, hoping that someone would fail to show up for their scheduled test so he could take their place. But as you might imagine, he wasn't the only one trying this, and every day there were people waiting ahead of him when he arrived. After a few boring days standing around a DMV, he decided to shift tactics.

In the early hours of Thursday, November 10th, Weasel boy contacted me to say he was packing up his camping tent and a collection of useful items to take with him to the sidewalk outside of the ICBC center. That way he would be the very first person in line when the center opened 5 hours later at 8 AM. With luck someone would miss their appointment and he would get his chance. His friend Mitch was coming along to keep him company through the night, and I figured I might as well join them. So at 5 AM or so I put on my warmest coat and walked up MacDonald street, stopping at the 7-11 for energy drinks, then heading on until I came across a most amusing sight.

The tent looked positively absurd on the empty city street. It wasn't even sitting outside of an electronics store, waiting for the start of a big sale or the release of a game, no, it was in front of an ICBC.

Truly, something weird was happening that night.

Weasel boy and Mitch were all set up inside, with a collection of donuts, energy drinks and netbooks full of files to keep them busy until morning.

(Yes, Mitch was nearly hairless on one half of his body that night. He had completely shaven his right side for Halloween.)

Despite freezing temperatures outside, the air in the tent was entirely reasonable. Once I crawled in, our combined body heat had us stripping off our heavy coats. Donuts were quickly consumed and sugary things washed them down.

Eventually Weasel boy fell asleep. Don't ask me how he managed to do that with an energy drink and half a box of donuts in him, and Alice in Wonderland playing on his netbook, but somehow he pulled it off. That left Mitch and I to try breaking into the WiFi networks in range. No luck, not even with the one named Serenity. Oh well, we had no trouble keeping ourselves busy.

As 7 AM arrived the orange sodium glow of the streetlight above us began to be replaced by daylight. We started hearing traffic on the street, and soon people began standing in line behind our tent for their own shot at sneaking in a test. It was about now that Weasel boy woke back up and downed the last energy drink.

Mitch mentioned that he had a bag of marshmallows in his car, so we climbed out of the tent and began nerding it up on the sidewalk for the last few minutes to opening. We could see the staff of the ICBC center looking out at us and taking pictures with their camera phones while they prepared to open up for the day. When one finally unlocked the door, she told us that no one had ever come with a tent before. Weasel boy headed inside to secure his place, and Mitch dismantled the tent while I got in his way.

After the long waits of the previous attempts, the first opening came surprisingly early that day. I'm pretty sure we were there for less than two hours before Weasel boy's name was called. Someone hadn't shown up for the road test appointment they'd been waiting THREE MONTHS for, so it was his turn if he wanted it. He wanted it. We watched him drive off in his mom's VW Passat.

Rather than stand around an ICBC waiting for him to return, Mitch and I took his car back to my place for some more nerding. It's always nice to find a fellow crazy person.

Eventually the call came. Weasel boy had passed! He had his license. What's more, he had earned a perfect score on his driving test. The person who filed the results had told him "We don't really ever see perfect scores here." The three of us decided to meet up at the Moderne Burger to celebrate. And upon returning to my house, Weasel boy ceremoniously pulled the N sign from the back of his car and dropped it into the nearest garbage can.

ICBC had been defeated via maximum absurdity!

Baby, you can drive my car