Adventures in Driving

Subtitle: Todd’s Facial Scar #2 of 3  (#3 of 3 is located here).

I won’t admit to be the world’s best driver, but neither am I the worst.  Since I bought my first vehicle in 1998 I’ve had two accidents.  One my fault, the other not.  Both were on ice and at low speeds with no injuries and only bumper damage to the vehicles.

But that wasn’t always the case.  Between getting my license at 16 and graduating high school I had a number of driving mishaps.  Oddly every single one of them was while going backwards.   Hmm.

I’d like to blame the oddity on my learning to drive in a full-size GMC van, but it would only be a partial truth.  The vehicle did have lousy visibility out the back, but I managed to run into some very large objects that should have been clearly visible.

To enumerate:

  • One person – but only barely – didn’t even knock them down.
  • One vehicle – but barely – didn’t hurt either vehicle
  • Um, hmm – one telephone pole that leapt out behind me. At a family reunion in front of all my uncles and cousins – very embarrassing.
  • And, one, um, building.   A Kentucky Fried Chicken actually.  I’m sure it moved four feet between when I parked and when I left.

Neither the pole nor the building noticed my driving at all.  Both of those certainly dented the van though.

Twenty years later I still haven’t heard the end of those.

My best driving stories are from riding my bicycle though.  I rode my bike to school pretty much every day it was possible from 2nd grade until I graduated.  Peace River was a great place to ride a bike – mostly nice wide streets with good visibility.  A cyclist could get around town pretty much as fast as a car.  Certainly in my junior high years, I could leave at the same time as my school bus and beat it to school.  Not a bad feat as there were no additional stops for the bus after mine.

Stef and I had a saying as we sped through the streets that our short transit times were based in equal measure on “speed and ingenuity”.  (Stef lived a half block from me through most of junior high and we commonly did the trip together.)

I also did trips far outside the town limits.  I was a common visitor to the Pine Acres (where there are no longer any pine trees interestingly).  And I sometimes went out to St. Isidore in one direction and Weberville (Or really Jay’s acreage in that direction) in the other.

But it didn’t always go smoothly.  At least twice there were accidents.

The first was when I was 10 or 11.  I was heading home from school and passing under the bridges on River Road.  The next move was to cross the street into the Co-Op parking lot, then the Provincial building parking lot before crossing River Road again and heading into downtown.  This cut off a wide corner of River Road and saved at least 2 minutes.

It went wrong right away.  I didn’t shoulder check and the taxi didn’t anticipate my darting out right in front of him.

Wham!

Bike and I both went flying (not too far) and lander on the berm along River Road.  I was uninjured (although with some road rash, but the grass was pretty soft).  The taxi was fine.  My bike was a mess.  Repairable, but not currently driveable.

I was really embarrassed since I knew it was entirely my fault.  I wanted to just walk my bike off and away as quick as possible.  The taxi driver saw things differently and radioed the police.

Mortifying!

So I got a lecture from the cops.  We all agreed that it was all my fault, I wasn’t hurt and the taxi driver left.  But the cop wouldn’t let me leave.  He insisted on driving me home.

That wasn’t the worst part.  The worst part was my other after school duty – picking the kiddo up from day care.  Tim was 5 or 6 and at the height of his yippiest phase of life.  For those of you that only know him now, it was way more yippy.  In theory I was the responsible role model, but here I was picking my brother up in a paddy wagon (OK just a normal RCMP cruiser).

Of course Tim wouldn’t just come quickly and quietly.  I had to convince him to come through my tears so that we wouldn’t make the cop wait.

As the cop dropped us off at home (Mom and Dad were both still at work), he made me promise that I’d tell my folks.  He’d be checking up.  Like I could have hidden it anyway!  I was scraped up, my bike was a mess and Tim was sure to tattle on me. 🙂

But I came out of that uninjured and soon got a new mountain bike as even after it was fixed my BMX pedal still rubbed a little against the frame.

The other accident did cause an injury.  I was heading all the way out the Jay’s a few years later.  It was early in the route.  I was still downtown.  I’d crossed main street, cut across the IGA parking lot and was hoping the curb into the parking lot behind the Royal Bank.

As I jerked my bike up over the curb, I didn’t really have time to notice that while the forks came up my front wheel stayed on the ground rolling away.  There really wasn’t much time before my front forks hit the ground.  This stops the bike fairly quickly in case you were wondering.

Inertia says that even though the bike might have stopped I wasn’t.  I went over the handlebars.  Fortunately I hit the ground with my least vulnerable body part – my face.  Namely my chin.

The adrenaline kept most of the pain at bay, but I was a bit of a mess.  My chin was torn open.  So were my hands, forearms and knees.  Torn clothes and shedding blood everywhere.

No one saw even though it was the middle of the day.

I limped back across the road the the IGA.  Shoppers noticed as I entered dripping blood onto the floor with every step.  I waved them off and asked one of the packers if I could use the phone to call home.  I’m sure someone helped tend my wounds while I waited for Mom.

A quick trip to the hospital followed and I got some nice stitches in my chin.

The forks weren’t even bent.  So the repair job was easy just had to get a new nut for the one that had gone missing.

But the worst hadn’t occurred yet.  You see the next day I had to go to Grande Prairie for an eye appointment.  Eye doctors have lots of neat machines.  They have the big glasses unit – “is it better like this – click, click – or like this” and they have the fancy automatic sensors.

The automatic machine needs you to hold very still so there is a rest for your chin.  It had brely been twelve hours since the stitches.  There was no adrenaline to assuage the pain this time.  The doctor went as quickly as possible, but I still left blood smears all over the chin guard and soaking through the sanitary papers padding the rest and theoretically protecting the guard.

The moral of the story is to choose parents without genetically bad eyes.  (Or maybe do a quick check on your bike for missing nuts before taking it out.)

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4 thoughts on “Adventures in Driving

  1. David Silvestri says:

    These are funnier now than they were then… and I mean the bike accidents… I still shake my head at your backing up skills… shaking as in, I’m also shoulder checking 🙂

    Also, I’d like to point out that guy on the commercial ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xokI3Ju93Og ) manages to go down a hill without a front tire… you should have been able to handle a curb. 😉

  2. You can read my blog, shake your head and shoulder check all at the same time? You are the best driver ever.

    They were pretty funny then too. I’m pretty fortunate that there were never any serious consequences. Not even a broken bone.

  3. Stef says:

    Those are some of my favourite memories too, Todd. (The bike riding, not the injuries.) Now, add a few quarters and some Double Dragon to the mix and you have the ideal ride home. Who knew that a spinning elbow is actually better than the Crane Technique – mash both buttons right, no can defense.)

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