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Snow white and the two dickheads

December 27, 2016

For a change of pace, I will not be ranting about Donald Trump today. This morning I have other giant dickheads on the brain.

Yesterday I was driving home after a lovely Christmas with friends in Sointula. The trip involves a ferry off Malcolm Island, a usually three and a half hour drive from Port McNeil to Nanaimo, then another ferry home. Yesterday was always going to take more than three and a half hours for the drive. Yesterday there was a lot of snow. I took my time heading through the hazardous upper pass, as did the other sensible drivers. There were a couple of cars in ditches, the drivers of which obviously hadn’t been as careful.

At Sayward Junction the snow disappeared off the road, replaced with lots of rain and the high probability of black ice, so once again I took my time. I knew the 3:45 ferry home was out of the question and quite possibly the next one, but I would get home eventually in one piece.

Not far past Campbell River snow reappeared. There was a lot on the road and more falling thick and fast. Time to slow down again. The highway is two lanes at that point, but the only lane that was remotely safe was the slow lane, where some sort of passage had been carved by the traffic ahead. Most people seemed to agree with me that 50 kilometres an hour was the appropriate speed. Occasionally some asshole in a truck would overtake the line of traffic I was leading. A moment of blindness as slush flying up from their tires hit my windscreen, then they would zoom (wankers) on ahead and pull back in.

About sixty kilometres north of Nanaimo, another dickhead in an SUV came whizzing up on my left to overtake me. This one, just as it got past me started to swerve. “Oh, shit,” I thought. His solution to the swerve was to pull back in right in front of me. A normally good, but on this occasion bad instinct kicked in and I gently put my foot on the brake to try to get some space between our vehicles. That was all it took. The car started spinning. I could not control it. Just when I thought I was going to spin into a ditch – possibly upside down – the driver’s side panel hit a marker post, which brought the car to a stop. And then, while I was sitting there, thinking I’d better get out, inspect the damage and figure out how the hell I was going to reverse out of this, another car smashed into my right rear panel. Like dickhead number one, who kept going after sending me spinning off the road, dickhead number two did not stop. Nor did any of the next twenty or thirty vehicles heading south.

A lovely young man named Tom, who was heading north did pull over, crossed the highway and came to see if I was okay. I was fine. Just fine. My beloved Echo, not so much. With Tom’s help, I did manage to reverse out and get the car facing the right direction. I thanked him profusely and tried to set off south, immediately realising something was wrong. Pulled over again and had a closer look. The front panel was squashed into the tire. The car was going nowhere. I reached into the car and pulled out the mobile I’d topped up before travelling, in case, you know, of an emergency. No signal. Fuck. Then Tom, who’d seen that I hadn’t gone very far came back. I asked if his phone had any reception. He said it did and offered to let me use it to call BCAA to arrange a tow. Given the weather conditions, it was hardly surprising that he was put on hold. Neither of us had any idea where on the highway we were, so we hiked through the snow bank up to the nearest sign, hoping it would help the tow truck driver: Thames Creek. We hiked back to his truck and got inside to wait. At least half an hour later we finally got through to someone, who told us the tow truck would be at least an hour. Oh, and just to round things off nicely, I was informed that my basic coverage would only cover the cost of a tow to the nearest qualified repair shop, which was in Qualicum. If I wanted the car towed to Nanaimo, I would have to pay $3 per kilometre. As there was absolutely no point in being stuck in Qualicum, I agreed, thinking it would be about $90.

While Tom, who very kindly refused to leave me, called his wife to tell her why he was going to be late, I trudged over the highway to my car to lock it up and collect a few things. When I got back Tom reported that he’d had a follow up call from BCAA, saying the truck would be there in 25 minutes. By now it was getting dark, which was a good thing in only one way: it meant I could safely squat beside Tom’s truck and have the pee I’d been needing since before the accident happened.

When the car was towed to the ICBC repair shop in Nanaimo I had a bill to pay for $152. Great. The tow truck driver offered, without charge, to drive me to the ferry terminal. I grabbed my suitcase and a few other things, then, realising the trunk would no longer close,  shifted everything else inside the car.

Once at the ferry terminal, I pulled out my mobile again. Still no signal on the stupid piece of crap. I asked the only other person in the waiting room if she had a mobile I could borrow. She didn’t. I dug a couple of quarters out of my wallet and headed back up to the ticket booth, where I knew there was a pay phone. Except there wasn’t. It had been removed. The day just kept getting better and better. Asked the woman in the ticket booth to see if there was a phone anywhere else. There wasn’t. Told her what had happened to me earlier in the day. She handed me her phone.

Now the question was what numbers did I know off by heart? Tried my nearest neighbours. The call went to voicemail. Then I tried my mate Charlie who lives reasonably close to me. Got him on the phone, told him where I was and why I was calling and, bless him, he said yes, of course he would pick me up and give me a lift home from the ferry. Oh, and by the way, he added, the power’s off. Fantastic.

Not only did he pick me up from the ferry, but he took me first back to his house, where he and Shelagh fed me the first food I’d had since leaving Sointula. After regaling them with my tale of the two dickheads involved in probably totalling my lovely car, Charlie suggested I look on the bright side: thanks to the marker post I hadn’t ended upside down  in a ditch, quickly buried in snow with a mobile that didn’t work. Indeed. Thanks for that, Charlie.

Back home I got the generator going and lit a fire. Poured myself a large glass of wine. Just as I was about to call ICBC and start the long wait on hold to get a claim going, the generator conked out. Could this day get any better? Camping lamps and candles lit, back on the phone. Half an hour later a lovely young woman took the accident information and started my claim.

This morning I rang the auto repair shop and was told the car was a write off. I will in time receive a cheque for a couple of thousand dollars, which will, of course, not get me another car. In the meantime – and until the claim is settled – I am entitled to a rental car which I can collect today and take to the auto repair shop to empty my belongings out of and say goodbye to my sixteen-year-old car.

The damage done by dickhead one.

The damage done by dickhead one.

The damage done 10 seconds later by dickhead two.

The damage done 10 seconds later by dickhead two.

If there is one bright light shining in the middle of this dark and dismal tale, it is Tom, my roadside Prince Charming, who not only stopped when no one else did, but insisted on staying with me until the tow truck arrived. May he and his wife live happily ever after and may his children and his children’s children be blessed.

From → Columns

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