Speed 20-16: Reflections on Speed
In an earlier century, in a different bay, when I was a bay-boy sprout, my family didn’t own a car.
The Merchant drove a Pontiac with an Indian head on the bonnet, a car that caused bay-boys to dream of wealth. And a couple of uncles owned International pick-up trucks.
Sometimes on a summer Sunday the uncles would load their trucks with family and motor off on an excursion to… oh, Trinity or Bonavista, maybe. Anyone unable to stog into the cab piled into the backs of the respective trucks, uncles magically manipulated clutches and gear shifts and away we went, youngsters clinging to the trucks’ wooden frames like young primates.
After a long exhausting, gemdandy day — and possibly a punctured tire or two — all hands returned home and pronounced the day an adventurous one well worth the road dust and weary bones.
“Harry, my nostalgic love,” says Dearest Duck, “pining for the past again?”
“Nay, my Duck,” say I, “I’m simply setting the stage, paint- ing the backdrop, so to speak.”
“Ah,” says Dearest Duck, knuckling my noggin. To continue… My father didn’t own a car until after he shifted our family to a foreign province where he bought a used 1950-something Chevrolet before he even learned to drive. A friend backed it into our driveway arse on to a section of basement wall showing above ground.
Needless to say, I was thrill until…
…well, until Pappy sat behind the wheel for his first practice session while I watched from the front step.
After wig-wagging the steering wheel and shifting his shoulders a time or two, Pappy hauled on the gear shift and — as he did everything — assertively stomped on the gas.
Quicker than Granny caught the weasel, the car hurled itself arse-foremost against the basement wall.
P’raps Pappy said some bad words.
Climbing from the front seat, Pappy examined the car’s rumpled rear-end and said, “Come here Harry, my son.”
Lodging his arm across my shoulder, Pappy said, “See that?” Of course, I saw that. “Keep in mind,” Pappy said, “one second of stundness in a car is dangerous.”
Then he smacked me lovingly on the back of my head. Punctuation, I s’pose, eh b’ys? “Harry,” says Dearest Duck, “that backdrop nearly painted?” “Indeed, my Duck.” A lifetime has passed since Pappy learned to drive and Daddy’s Boy is now a full-grown old codger. “Harry, my aged honey…” “It’s true, my Duck, I’m an old codger and I’m shit-baked to drive on the highways here in the Ball Room.” “Harry!” There are those who would say, “You’re an old codger, so stay off the roads if you can’t keep up.” Keep up? Considering the speeds at which some folks drive, I’d need a vehicle capable of warp-overdrive.
Where are so many speedsters going at MACH-1? Costco? The Mall? Sometimes Dearest Duck and I are motoring along on our way to the Tension Tamer Tea Room or Farmers’ Market, chit-chatting comfortably with the Cruise Control set at 105 kms — Yes, I dare to speed a tad recklessly myself at times — and some Yahoo in a chrome-plated pickup truck zooms past us as if were hitched to a stump.
While speed is a factor that sometimes leads to highway deaths, there is a newer problem that frightens me and causes recurring cementing of my bowels.
Some drivers are asleep at the wheel.
(Hey, there’s a band with that name idden it, b’ys?)
Those drivers are asleep at the wheel because they work long hours and commute to and from their distant jobsites.
I’ve met some of those drivers and they’ve confessed to nodding off…
“Just for a second and I woke up when the fender scraped the guardrail. Luckily my foot fell off the gas pedal, eh b’y?”
I’ve witnessed — truly — the result of a young man falling asleep and his foot jamming the accelerator to the mat…
…and his car hurtling towards me until it veered off the shoulder, slammed into a pole, flipped end over end air bound and pitched facing backwards in an alder thicket.
Luckily — and unbelievably — the young, sleepy driver crawled out of his wrecked car apparently none the worse for his accident.
Listen, one could load up a hard drive scribbling about highway horrors, so while recalling some of your own frightening adrenaline floods remember…
…the highway is a dangerous place where terrible things can happen — p’raps to me; maybe to you.
Thank you for reading. Be safe. Be mindful in traffic.