Sunday, October 2, 2011

Crunch Time

It was not yet 6 AM as my associate and I made our way with the commuter traffic with just enough time to comfortably make the 7 AM ferry to Victoria.  The rain streaked out of the darkness through the glare of commuter headlights and sentry-like street lamps before stabbing into my windshield only to be swept away by another swipe of the relentless wiper blades. The turn signal perched on the fender of the truck to my immediate left blinked twice.  On the third flash the dotted white line that separated our lanes disappeared beneath the black truck tires as they intruded with conviction into what had been my territory.  I felt as helpless as Holland in May 1940 when the Nazis rolled over the Dutch border, crushing any opposition and claiming the conquered land as their own.
My body, bracing for impact, went into instant Parkinson-like reaction, my arms and legs stiffened and ached at the same time. Then, like the crushing of an empty Coke can under the heel of a hobnail boot, my front fender crumpled under the invading tire tread.  Reacting, I cranked the wheel back into the point of impact as if to push the truck back into its own lane.  Apparently sensing some trifling challenge to its highway domination the truck seemed to give ground. Momentarily the grinding of plastic, metal and rubber stopped. But then, as if the truck driver had wanted to take a run at my defenceless vehicle, the unwarranted attack resumed.  The pushing match briefly continued.
I don't understand how I managed to avoid being forced over the curb into the waiting embrace of a power pole. But finally the ramming ended and the blue Save-On Disposal bin-hauling truck pulled over. Amazed at the surrender, I surveyed the damage from my driver’s seat, astonished that my midsized Ford was not more seriouslysmashed and still drivable.  The right fender and driver door clearly evidenced the predawn confrontation, and the dislodged side mirror clinging to the car by three wires was a symbol of the closeness of the clash.  I slammed my shoulder against the inside of my door to get out and confront the tyrant trucker.  After three attempts the jammed metal reluctantly gave way and the door opened with a metal-grinding groan.  It was striding toward the driver when it happened, the adrenalin-induced shudder and shaking.  Parkinson’s disease had reasserted its dominating influence, having politely waited until survival was no longer at stake.
The normal tremors were manageable, but under high stress their amplitude increased to 9.5 on the Richter scale.  Getting my licence out of my wallet proved to be an ordeal of dexterity that might have called into question my sobriety were it not before breakfast.  Writing down the information from the offender’s driver’s licence was impossible.  Even using my Blackberry to photograph it instead produced a fuzzy facsimile.
Despite the unplanned early morning “meeting”, we caught the ferry.  Breathing easier I began seeing the day’s events as metaphorical.  PD may not have wheels but it has often seemed relentless in its mission to push me off my path.  It is our persistent commitment to stay on track not the power of the opponent that will prevail.

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