The Adventures of Rob and Dorrit (the Toyota Echo): Express pick-up at IKEA

As I loaded the fourth kitchen cabinet into Dorrit’s trunk I couldn’t help but be surprised by the sheer size of it. The Toyota Echo is essentially the Mk1 Toyota Yaris with a tacked-on trunk (or boot for my Irish brethren) and it was massive. I was more surprised to be loading kitchen cabinets into the car in the first place. They were not mine and I hadn’t planned on being anywhere near IKEA on this cold Sunday morning. But, a friend in need is a friend indeed and I owed Rory my very life in Vancouver.

The original plan was to rise early and go out to Rory in New Westminster, which is a thirty-minute drive from my home. I had discovered that simply telling him I’m coming over for coffee and rock up outside his house was a far more efficient way to maintain our friendship than phoning or texting. Rory is one of those horrid early riser types who gets up at the crack of dawn and gets to cleaning, running errands and being highly productive.

So, I was slight worried when Rory came sauntering out of his house, looking rather groggy and disheveled. “Are you OK”? I asked him. “Yeah, I just had a few beers last night” came his response. “I need coffee” he continued. He needed more than just coffee but we jumped into the car and drove to the local Starbucks. As we waited in line he told me that he had to go to IKEA to get cabinets for his ongoing renovation project. I felt a twinge of fear knowing where this conversation was going. “Do you fancy making a run to IKEA?” he asked. I didn't really, but I owed him a hell of a lot more than a trip to a furniture store.

Rory is my oldest friend in Vancouver. I met him through a girl in acting school all the way back in 2010. He came to our final showcase and I’d be lying if I said I remember everything about that night. I had just completed my six-month acting course and was getting ready to go home to Ireland and come out as gay at 32 years old. I was drinking to try and quell my nerves. Anyway, what I remember most about Rory was that he was a fellow geek and we instantly bonded over Star Trek and Stargate and The Transformers. Fast forward six months later, I was back in Vancouver, out and proud with a working holiday visa to my name. I needed a place to stay and Rory stepped in and offered me a room in his basement suite. We lived together for over a year and I learnt a lot from him ranging from the correct way to arrange toilet paper to the joys of arguing over fictional hyperdrive and shield power sources. Total geek tech talk and I loved it. He understood me in a way many people didn't and we would spend nights sitting together watching sci-fi on Netflix. Rory would have beer and a smoke while I would have a cup of tea and some biscuits. It was a match made in heaven and I have to give him a huge amount of credit here. He taught me about male friendship and made me feel safe in a city that was alien to me. He was not gay but had to deal with my 'dramatic teenager phase'. You see coming out at 32 meant that I had no idea how to date, never mind how to date men. One night I came home distraught thinking I had AIDS and poor Rory had to calm me down. I did not have AIDS and he stills jokes about it to this day. I can laugh now, but it was terrifying at the time. When it came time to move out he helped me and has constantly taken care of me. In response, I keep six beers in my fridge just for him along with salt and pepper in my press and I always have the toilet paper in the right position.

Rory knew the way to IKEA and I let him navigate. We chatted casually as I tried to concentrate on the road. Getting there was easy enough and then we had to find the express pick-up parking section. The cabinets were waiting for us and we loaded the car up quickly. On our way back Rory said it was lovely to be driven somewhere. He was slouching on his chair with his phone in hand. I understood what he meant. Driving is a wonderful freedom, but when it is always you doing it, it can get tiring. Sometimes you just want to sit back and relax, especially if you are feeling ropey and hungover. This was the first time in our long friendship that I had been able to do that for him. It may seem trivial or a male ego thing, but it felt good to be the one actively helping him. It was a re-balancing of our friendship and I had Dorrit to thank for that.

I smile knowing that even though my cars may change, the bond I feel to them doesn’t. They have always been companions that have allowed me to expand my life and relationships. It is crazy to think that this small car with a huge trunk makes me a better man and better friend to people like Rory.


Next Month: Dorrit and the Hot Rod.