Thursday, October 1, 2009

The Badger, The Timbits, and The Runaround

Someone asked me about the badger in my note from yesterday. "That thing that time" is the following story as I related it to my family shortly after it happened.

Words and abbreviations you may need if you're not from my neck of the woods:
CFB - Canadian Forces Base; the British Army have a training unit at CFB Suffield in southern Alberta, near Medicine Hat
BFBS - British Forces Broadcasting System
SGI - Saskatchewan Government Insurance (everyone gets their plates from them)
Timbit - a doughnut hole from Tim Horton's

The Badger, The Timbits and The Runaround

Aug 13, 2005

Apparently I have one of those faces. The kind that says "Tell me your life story - I'm interested. Oh, and don't forget to ask me a heap of questions about my life." I don't ask. It's all just volunteered. So naturally, I know a bunch about my new friend Ernie the tow-truck driver.

I'd just cleaned out my car. I love it when it's freshly vacuumed and not dusty from many a road trip to the wilderness of Medicine Hat. It's a drive I've done often since I've met my Englishman. So I'm familiar with the trek and driving at night is not a worry to me. You get some Tim's and some water and you drive. It's relaxing and theraputic for thought. Mentally cleansing. Like a clean car. I've composed many a line for my play and various other things while driving. But I also pay attention to the road. After all, I'd seen deer and a fox or two by the time I'd passed Burstall and into Alberta. You can see where this is going...

About 4:15 am. I'm forty klicks out of Med Hat and due at CFB Suffield around 5. I'm already tuned into the BFBS and appalled at the "music" the Brits are playing at this hour. Who wants electric pop this early in the morning? It's uncomfortable but tolerable agony. Like waiting for SGI to phone you back.

Just ahead in the road, and I mean -just- ahead, is a large pavement-coloured object trotting along down AB41 headed south. Two feet high, two feet wide, solid fur. Badger, living brick, whatever. Maybe it was a porcupine. Didn't really have time to ask it. And the poor defenseless tank of an animal wanders into my lane just as I'm swerving to avoid it.

Hit it with the front tire. Pretty sure I nailed it with the back tire, too, but now I have to swerve to keep on the road. Not easy with a flat. So naturally I end up in a 360 and down the fifteen foot bank into the ditch. I 360 down there, too, and end up facing west at the bank I've just roller-coastered down. Engine shuts itself off. Hunh.

First things first, I'm fine. Completely uninjured, completely calm, and thinking "How'm I going to get the car up this bank?"

I get out to assess the damage. Driver's side is perfectly fine. I walk around the back and as I suspected the front tire is flat. Okay, I have a spare and though I've never done it, in theory I can change a tire. Then I look at the back wheel. Actually, I'm looking at the back axle where the wheel suspiciously isn't. I swear to God my first thought was "I don't think I can fix that with the spare." The wheel and the rest of the axle is about fifty feet from me and, in the glow of sunrise, it's easy to spot. I trudge it back to the car and, in denial, wish I had some duct tape.

Cellular coverage is analog in a fifteen foot ditch but you can get CAA on the phone easy enough. Then they call Ernie. Then I call C* and tell him I'm going to be a little late getting to the base.

"What happened?"

"Well, I'm fine but I'm not sure the badger's going to make it." I just hope I killed it. It was so large I can't be sure but a tiny little person like me is not going to be stupid enough to check. I'm not about to provoke a mortally wounded badger by checking to see if it's dead. Plus,...gross.

So twenty minutes later, I'm sitting in what's left of my car and gathering the contents of my purse which had been in the front seat but was somewhere under it and dusting the timbit sugar off the dash. It HAD been clean. There's Timbits under the rear window, too. Hell, it looks like Tim Horton's exploded in my car. Picture donuts reacting like popcorn in the event of an emergency. And C* calls. He's showered and dressed, he'll grab the car and meet me wherever the hell the truck driver takes me, and am I sure I'm okay? He's a gem, my C*.

Ernie tells me about all sorts of accidents he's seen involving badgers and jeez, they're huge and boy, you're lucky you didn't roll it and this really isn't all that bad, but hell, you could've been killed. I must be a helluva driver, and boy, you're lucky you didn't roll it. So...where were you headed?

It's a half hour to the city sooo Ernie and I have plenty to talk about. Who he used to work for, the army base, my sweetheart the corporal who'll meet me at the autobody shop, Ted's Autobody, because Ernie knows Ted from way back.... The lot's littered with trashed steel and Ernie rattles off the former cars for me. "Deer, deer, moose I think, deer..." He reaffirms that I'm lucky. I just smile. He's probably right.

C* picks me up, six in the morning and takes me for breakfast. And then begins the runaround. Trying to get a hold of the autobody shop. Trying to get an estimate. Trying to get a hold of car rental agents. Trying to get a hold of SGI, the RCMP, the police and everyone telling me I have to call somebody else until the last person tells me I have to phone the first. Sigh. I try and stop myself from thinking about the nearly full tank of gas still left in my now totalled Cavalier. The bright spot in the dark side is, now that C* has to spend time overseas, I won't need a car for the drive to Suffield for five months. (insert bitter and ironic smile slash sigh here)

Taking a cab to work means meeting more people who tell you all about how slow the summer is and how happy they are you're taking the cab because they sat in the heat waiting for a call for an hour. Little immigrant ladies with a dozen pine trees, a rainbow forest, hanging from the rear view with Jesus and his tree, telling you how it's a miracle you called, a miracle that you happened to need a lift that day. "Oh, thank you, thank you" as the radio beeps with another fare, "See what you started?" She smiles big at me and "miracle" escapes her lips again. To her, I'm lucky.

And I am. Sure, I've owned four cars and sold four cars to SGI. (No fault of my own) Sure, my boyfriend may be posted to Iraq at any moment, but he's a good man and I'm very lucky he's mine. And yes, random strangers tell me tons of stuff not necessarily relevant to my life but I'm lucky.

I just must have one of those faces.

Since then, I've sold another car to SGI, realized my geometry above is impossible (and should be 270 and 450), C* has been many places, and I've managed to avoid coming in range of any badgers - and I still feel bad about it.

Yesterday, I saw all kinds of birds, a giant dragonfly, prairie dogs, chipmunks, and two snakes. I heard a number of living things scruffling (it's a new word - you won't find it in the dictionary yet...) about in the brush. I imagine they were bunnies and squirrels until I saw the snakes. Then they all became gnash-y teeth monsters and retaliatory badgers. But I wholeheartedly believe that an overactive imagination is better than none at all.

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