A near-death experience

The year was 1991.

Not a particularly good year. My father had undergone a procedure for cancer which had not worked and was told that there was nothing else to do but live out his days with palliative chemo. That night he had invited a bunch of people for what would be his last Christmas party.

I was heading back home from my job at Costco, or Club Price as it was called in Quebec city back then. Normally I would give a close friend of mine a ride home, but fortunately our shifts didn’t match up that day. So it was just me, a reasonably good driver trying to make good time to get home for the party. Oh, and the snowstorm. Mind you in Quebec City a snowstorm isn’t that big a deal if you’re careful.


The highway home had a kind of a chicane in it where another, elevated highway crossed over it. I had just overtaken someone and decided to get back to the right-hand lane, so I press the clutch on the Ford Tempo to slow down a bit and move over.

This was not a good combination of things to do. By pressing the clutch I was causing the front wheels to slow down but the rear wheels were still going the same speed, so that when I started moving over I felt the back of the car get away from me, then BANG — I hit the guardrail and then the car went all light, airborne, and fell right on the passenger’s side. If my friend had gotten a ride from me that day she’d be dead.

I, however, was largely unscathed. I was kept aloft by my safety belt and my death-grip on the steering wheel. For a few seconds I looked out the windshield at cars gingerly making their way around me. The tape I had in the car was still playing. I released my safety belt and fell right onto my eyeglasses, which I did not even realize were not still on my face. I pulled myself out of the car through the driver’s door, stepped out pretty much in shock, and lit a cigarette. One of the driving wheels was broken and hanging by the brake line so there was no hope of driving that home. Once the car got pushed into its wheels the police officer handed me my (cracked) glasses.

So, that’s how that happened. When you’re driving home in a snowstorm, take your time and don’t do anything stupid, and you should be ok.