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Monday, January 31, 2011

Ditch Cars

I left town on Friday. What a mistake. The first hundred kilometres were fine, “typical seasonal driving,” as they say. It took me an hour to get that far. Then the snow started blowing in, and wow, did it blow! Classic white-out scenario, with me peering Mr. Magoo-style against the windshield in the hopes of catching even a brief glimpse of the road ahead of me.
If it hadn’t been for the angelic truck ahead of me I probably would have ended up off the road several times. I followed that trucker like a pre-teen girl follows Justin Bieber, only without the incessant screaming. Too tense to even let out a good string of expletives, I trailed along behind that dude for the next hundred kilometres (taking a full two hours). Road signs were invisible. Both of us ended up driving with one set of wheels on those bumpy ridges they put on the road edge just to make sure we were still on pavement. Speeds drifted slower and slower until we were creeping along at around 20 kph. I know that there are two stoplights on that stretch of highway, and I have no clue when we drifted through them. Were they red or green? There was no way of knowing because we couldn’t see a single thing. Occasionally a reflective marker would loom out of the dark to give some clue as to how far from the ditch I was, and that was about it.
Oh, and I could see one more thing: the idiot who raced by us in the passing lane. And it wasn’t only one idiot, it was three! Three times we (me and my nameless trucker buddy) were passed, and not gradually either. Zoomed on by, these fellows.
Were they possessed of some sort of asphalt detection system, so that they could scan for the road and know their relative position? Were they driving by GPS and just trusting in the mapped position of the Transcanada? Did the Terminator zip by me that night, his electronic eyes capable of seeing everything, as he so blithely claimed in T2? Perhaps any or even all of these, but I am forced to consider a more likely possibility, however.
They were Ditch Cars.
Some would say that we all have a destiny. Perhaps there are certain vehicles that were made just so that they could become the car you see in the ditch the morning after a storm. You drive by, whistle, say “Glad that’s not me,” or “Wow, he really plowed in there,” or even “Idiot.” But is it fair to blame a car (or man) for fulfilling it’s destiny? Fate decreed that some should be sacrificed so that the rest of us should learn a valuable lesson. Likely the cars’ drivers, poor fools, didn’t even realize that they had been used by the cruel hand of fate, to be the instrument that would drive their chosen cars into the ditch.
Evidence for my theory was presented to me not a half hour later on that very same night, as I crept by one of the Ditch Cars, already well positioned four metres off the road. I did not stop (someone else had already shown mercy) but I saluted the brave fellow. Destiny met, good sir; well done.
Certainly the example has served its purpose with me: I have a renewed respect for the power of a winter whiteout, and will fearfully crawl onto all roadways between the months of October and March from this point on. One more life potentially saved, one less late-night call to CAA, one less accident on the yearly Autopac spreadsheets.
Godspeed Ditch Cars! Godspeed.

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