Let The Freak-Out Begin

We did it!  We got the property I mentioned last week, and we’re moving to Vancouver Island!  Woohoo!

…Let the freak-out begin.

Okay, that’s not quite accurate – the freak-out is already well under way.  Apparently I’m an overachiever, because I started the process as soon as we got serious about the property:

  • “OMG, what if we don’t get it?”
  • “OMG, what if we do get it?”
  • “OMG, somebody else is looking at it; what if they offer before us?”
  • “OMG, our offer is in and the seller has counter-offered but they got another offer in the mean time! Will they back out of our deal because they know our only recourse is to sue them?”
  • “OMG, we got it! What if we move out there and hate it?”
  • “OMG, what if our money somehow gets lost between our bank and the lawyer’s trust account?”
  • “OMG, what if there’s some freakish land use regulation we somehow failed to uncover during our (read ‘my’ – Hubby is much more easygoing about these things) obsessive due diligence and it turns out we can’t build?”
  • “OMG, what if we do get the house built and then the creek has a record-breaking flood that even comes over our big setback and grade elevation?”

…And on and on, all of it leading to, “OMG, we’re gonna lose everything and die homeless, penniless, and starving!

In my saner moments (and let’s not quibble about my definition of sanity), I realize this may be a teeny exaggeration.  But hey, at least if my book sales go flat there’s a promising career for me as one of those wild-eyed doomsayers waving a “World Is Ending” sign on a street corner.

I don’t mean to give the impression that I’m all gloom and tragedy – I’m actually euphoric about moving out of the city and designing my dream kitchen in my dream house.  It’s just that I’ve been cursed with both a logical brain and an overactive imagination.

My logical mind wants to make sure all bases are covered, so it maps out worst-case scenarios and their corresponding safeguards and action plans.  Meanwhile, my crazy imagination seizes those worst-case scenarios and spins them into all sorts of cataclysmic potential outcomes.  It’s a little tiring; but on the upside, I’m rarely shocked by even the most bizarre twists of fate.

Laid-back Hubby just goes with the flow.  While we were running around looking at properties and talking to realtors and planners and builders and bankers and lawyers, I turned to him, totally frazzled, and asked, “Isn’t this stressing you out?”

He just smiled and shrugged.  “Nope.”

Some days I wish I could live inside his head instead of my own.

But now it’s his turn to stress out because he has to clean up and consolidate his packrat-jumble of tools and toys and ‘treasures’; while my stuff is permanently organized and ready to go at a moment’s notice.  So maybe I don’t want to be him after all.

I guess as long as we’re not freaking out simultaneously, it’ll all work out.  But if you ever see a wild-eyed pair waving “The World Is Ending” signs, and if the female half of the couple has long red hair, you might want to detour to the other side of the street.

Just sayin’…

* * *

The Virtual Backyard Book Club is four months old – how are we doing, and what would you like to discuss?  Click here to have your say!

Trolling For Cars

Every twenty years or so, I subject myself to a painful and annoying ordeal.  It’s that time of the vicennium again, and yes, I’m navigating the perilous waters of car shopping.  So far I’ve battled new car dealers sharks, used car salesmen morays, and private sellers bottom-feeders.

I’ve done a ton of research and narrowed my choices down to a shortlist based on my analysis, and now I’m in the process of looking at actual cars.  The research was interesting and enjoyable, but the actual car-shopping is inefficient and irritating as hell.

The problem is that any sort of pressure tactic annoys me to the point where I’ll walk away and go to a different dealership just to look at an identical car.  Salespeople who know less than I do irritate me.  Liars irritate me.  And a large proportion of the salespeople I’ve encountered so far have been ignorant, high-pressure, liars, or some combination thereof.

I’ve only been shopping for two days, and already I’ve encountered these pieces of work:

  • A private seller who bought an accident-insurance write-off, fixed up the body, rolled back the odometer (there was no way that vehicle only had 39,000 kilometres on it), and had his brother the mechanic ‘certify’ it for safety. You know how you just need a shower after dealing with some guys?    Yeah, that.
  • A salesman who asked what I’m looking for and before two words had left my mouth, turned his back on me to talk to my husband instead. No, I didn’t buy a car from him.  Go figure.
  • A saleswoman who demanded my contact information before even letting me get near a car, despite the fact that I’d already told her I only wanted to sit in it to see if the driving position was comfortable enough to remain on my shortlist. She was quite snippy when I refused to give her my phone number and email… but not as ticked off as I was when I finally convinced her to let me sit in the car and the headrests could have qualified as torture devices at Guantanamo Bay.
  • A salesman who, when I told him about the other vehicles I was considering, sagely shook his head and said, “I’m not the kind of guy who’d badmouth the competition, but…” Then he proceeded to badmouth the competition, and all but patted my hand and told me to take his advice and not bother my pretty little head about such complicated things.  Listen, dipshit, I know more about cars than you do.  And it really pisses me off when you lie to me.

So I don’t have a new car yet.  And I’m afraid to even speak the words “new car” within earshot of my good old reliable beater, just in case its feelings are hurt and it decides to break down and dump me in the middle of nowhere.

But I’m still trolling the car-sales waters.  I’m not the chum they think I am.

Anybody else suffered through buying a new vehicle lately?

* * *

New discussion at the Virtual Backyard Book Club:  Sacrifice Or Selfishness?  Considering what John has given up in the name of duty, is he being selfish now? Click here to have your say!

Self-Driving Auto-Paranoia

A couple of days ago I discovered an article about how and when a self-driving car should be programmed to injure or kill its passengers.  It’s an alarming proposition, but it’s actually a valid point:  if the car has to choose between wiping out ten pedestrians or only its driver, simple logic says it should choose the lesser number of casualties.

But the realization that my future vehicle may be plotting to kill me makes me just a wee bit mistrustful of technology.

Or, in my case, more mistrustful of technology.  I’ve never been good at leaving my safety in the hands (circuits?) of inanimate objects.  (Or even animate objects, for that matter.  I’m a lousy passenger even with a human driver – I spend as much time watching the road as the driver does.  But that’s another story.)

My point is, I’m suspicious of any electronic device that wants to make decisions for me.

Take my GPS, for instance.  The lady inside my GPS can usually get me where I want to go, but she’s not always good at it.  When we’re in unfamiliar territory, Hubby usually drives while I navigate.  Theoretically the GPS should be all we need, but I never go anywhere without a paper map; partly because my GPS has a tendency to announce “Low battery!” and/or lose its satellite connection at critical moments, but mostly because I don’t trust it to choose the best route.

I can set it to ‘faster time’ (which is usually dog-slow) or ‘shortest distance’ (synonymous for ‘via goat-paths and dodgy neighbourhoods’), but there’s no setting for ‘common sense’.  So, after a few forays through dense forest on steep roads no wider than our car (though, as the GPS insisted, that road was technically ‘paved’) our trips have become a power struggle between the GPS and me.

The GPS lady says, “In… two hundred metres… turn left.”

And I say, “Ignore that.  It doesn’t know what it’s doing.  Keep going straight.”

Hubby, like all husbands with a modicum of self-preservation, silently follows my directions while the GPS says in snotty tones, “Recalculating.  In… one hundred metres… make a U-turn.”

Me:  “Ignore that.  Keep going.”

GPS (getting cranky):  “Recalculating.  In… three kilometres… TURN LEFT, IDIOT!”

Me:  “Ignore that…”

Given the choice, I’d rather have an up-to-date paper map and only use the GPS to pinpoint the location of the nearest Dairy Queen.  (And don’t get me wrong; that’s a critical function.  I need frequent ice cream breaks when I’m on the road.)

But antagonizing my GPS is probably a bad idea, because the new cars will have them built in.  And if a hostile GPS triggers the ‘kill-the-driver’ algorithm, I could be in serious trouble.

On the surface, the self-driving car seems utopian:  I could be snoozing or reading or snacking while my car takes me safely and efficiently to my destination.  But in reality I’d probably end up sitting in the driver’s seat with both hands on the wheel, simultaneously watching the road and keeping a wary eye on the car in case it tries to kill me.

But maybe I’m just paranoid.

Or maybe that’s not a ‘maybe’…

* * *

And speaking of technology… there’s a new discussion over at the Virtual Backyard Book Club:  Aydan’s Tech Gadgets – Love ‘Em Or Hate ‘Em?  Click here to have your say!

Serious, For Once

(Don’t worry, this is a temporary aberration. I promise I’ll be back to my usual foolishness next week.)

I try to avoid being serious whenever possible, but my father-in-law lost his battle with cancer last Thursday so I’m not quite myself this week. We knew his time was getting short so we were able to say our goodbyes, but many people aren’t so lucky.

The following is a post I wrote ‘way back in 2013.  I didn’t share it at the time because it was more solemn than I generally like to be, but today it seems fitting.

* * *

I’m at the age where mortality starts to get up in my face a little more each year. One of our friends just died of a heart attack at age 47, another at 50. Other friends are being diagnosed with cancer, heart disease, diabetes, you name it. “Catching up with the news” used to mean hearing about happy things like weddings and babies. Now it’s diseases and funerals.

You just never know when your time is going to run out.

I drive the highways quite a bit, and I see lots of memorials beside the road. One I pass frequently is a white cross with a hard hat and safety vest hanging from it. There are bouquets of flowers beside it in the ditch, along with hand-lettered signs that say, “Miss you, Dad”, and “We love you, Dave”.

The little roadside shrines always make me sad. Sad that somebody lost a loved one in an accident, but sadder still that Dave’s buddies probably never said, “We love you, Dave” while he was alive.

Why is it so hard to tell people what they really mean to us? Imagine how Dave would have felt if one his buddies slapped him on the back and said, “Man, I love working with you. Your sense of humour makes my day.” Or whatever they loved Dave for.

Maybe he made up rude song lyrics and sang them off-key and it made everybody laugh. Maybe he bought a round for the guys every Friday night. Maybe he was always willing to swap a shift so a co-worker could go to his kid’s hockey game. Or maybe he was the sympathetic ear everybody turned to when they needed to blow off steam. Whatever it was that made him special, I’ll bet Dave never knew how much they appreciated him.

And now it’s too late to tell him.

We’ve got so many commercialized occasions for “heartfelt” cards and gifts. Mother’s Day and Father’s Day and Valentine’s Day are fine, but they’ve become obligations and you’re in trouble if you miss them. So you stuff a card in an envelope; buy some flowers; go out for a nice dinner; bang-boom-done-for-another-year. All the “heartfelt” your money can buy.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we created a new occasion? No cards or gifts allowed. Just one day out of the year where our only obligation is to say something nice that we’ve thought to ourselves but never said.

And not just to parents or spouses. How about to co-workers, doctors, baristas, teachers, or cleaning staff? No big embarrassing fanfare, just a quiet, sincere “You make my life better”. Or “We love you, Dave”.

Nobody else even needs to know we said it. Only the person who truly needs to hear it.

Maybe we could do it more than once a year, too.

It’s just a thought.

* * *

And on that note, thank you to all my readers. I don’t blog because I like flapping my virtual gums; I do it because you wonderful folks brighten my day with your comments. Thanks for taking the time – you’re the best!

Putting The ‘Real’ In Real Estate

One of my hobbies is shopping for land. It’s a bit of a pipe dream since it’s so expensive around Calgary, but I keep looking just in case there’s a bargain out there. Hey, if it made sense, it wouldn’t be a hobby, right?

Over the years I’ve gradually learned the language of real estate listings, so I’ve decided to share some of my hard-earned knowledge. Here are translations for some common phrases:

“Pristine recreational quarter”: It’s swamp.

“Beautiful creekside property”: It’s swamp.

“Perfect for hunters and sportsmen”: It’s swamp, with scrubby black spruce and gnarly undergrowth.

“Enjoy the beauty of nature and watch the wildlife from your window”: It’s mostly swamp. And if you try to grow a garden on the part that’s not swamp, a herd of ravenous deer will devour it.

“All the space you need”: It’s bald-ass prairie.

“Stunning views”: It’s bald-ass prairie.

“Perfect for your horses”: It’s bald-ass prairie.

“Seasonal creek”: It’s bald-ass prairie, but there’s a low spot where the runoff collects in the spring.

“Over 500 trees planted around the building site”: It’s bald-ass prairie, and the ‘trees’ are six-inch twigs. They might be taller than you by the time you die, but only if you have really severe osteoporosis and you shrink to under five feet.

“Spectacular mountain view”: You can see the very tips of the mountains if you stand on a ladder in the far northwest corner of the property next to the neighbour’s barn.

“Oil lease revenue”: There’s a sour-gas well smack in the middle of the only habitable part of the land. The rest is swamp.

“Ideal location to build the walkout of your dreams”: It’s a 45-degree grade with a ten-foot strip of level land at the top.

“Owner is motivated to sell”: There’s a feedlot and slaughterhouse on the next quarter and the stench of concentrated cow shit and rotting innards will slag your sinuses from two miles away.

“Wonderfully secluded property”: There’s no road access. To get to the property you have to build half a mile of road, or else dodge an evil-tempered bull while you four-wheel through the neighbour’s pasture.

“A half-mile of beautiful river frontage”: It’s a flood plain.

“It’s been handed down from generation to generation but now the owners must regretfully pass it on to someone who’ll enjoy it as much as they did”: A giant sawmill has been built on the property to the south and a bunch of nutjobs have established a ‘sporting society’ on the property to the north. The owners are fleeing like rats deserting a sinking ship.

“There’s a sign on the property”: No, there isn’t.

“No, really, there’s a sign on the property”: Okay, there is; but it’s invisible unless you approach from the correct direction and glance over at exactly the right moment.  You will only discover this after driving a systematic grid pattern for at least an hour.

“Fenced and cross-fenced”: …sometime in the 1930s. Now it’s a gap-toothed line of drunken-looking fenceposts with a couple of strands of rusty barbed wire concealed in the grass, just waiting to wrap around your ankle and trip you face-first into the nearest cow patty.

…But I have to admit that after hundreds of disappointments, I’ve developed my own double-speak. It’s only one phrase, but I use it over and over:

“It’s not quite what we’re looking for.”

I’m sure you can guess the translation. (Hint:  If your guess includes an f-bomb or two, you’re probably pretty close.)

* * *

P.S. Book 10 is sailing along!  It’ll definitely be released early, probably in late summer.  Woohoo!

Thanks For Another Good Year!

It’s hard to believe we’ll be starting a new year tomorrow – this one has flown by so fast!  I had originally planned to write some of my usual foolishness today, but instead I’d rather use this final post of 2014 to say thank you to all of you.

When I first started blogging I didn’t think I’d enjoy it, but it has been far more fun than I could have imagined.  And you, my wonderful visitors, make it worthwhile.

You give life to my blog and motivation to me.  You make me laugh, encourage me, and sometimes make me think in new ways.

And in the busy-ness of today’s crazy world, I’m honoured beyond measure that you allot some of your precious time to read my silliness and share your wit and wisdom.  Your comments are the best part of my blog!

So thank you, from the bottom of my heart.

I wish you love, laughter, health, and prosperity in the coming year and always.

Happy 2015!

gingerbread house

Is That A Snake In Your Pocket Or…?

Last week in the news this headline confronted me: “A Sandwich, A Snake, And A SNAFU: How Things Went Wrong At A Saskatoon Tim Horton’s”. And I just couldn’t resist the opportunity to put it into a blog post. (Thanks to Chris Robinson for inspiring the title of this post with his comment on my Facebook page.)

In case the link expires, here are the salient points of the event:

  1. Two guys walk into a Tim Horton’s in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. (Yes, this IS the beginning of a joke.)
  2. They order a sandwich (unclear whether that was one sandwich between the two of them, or one sandwich each). They want their onions diced.
  3. The employee objects to dicing the onions.
  4. An argument ensues.
  5. The argument escalates.
  6. One guy gets thoroughly pissed off, reaches into his buddy’s pocket, pulls out a non-venomous snake, and throws it at the employee.
  7. Chaos ensues and the police are called.
  8. The guys get arrested and charged with public mischief. The snake gets a temporary home until it can be released into the wild. I get a belly laugh or three. No word on what the employee got.

Naturally, my first reaction on reading this article was to post it on Facebook and Twitter for everyone to enjoy. After all, as I noted there, how often do you find a guy secure enough in his manhood to publicly reach into his buddy’s pocket and grab his snake?

But on further reflection, there was just so much in this article to boggle my mind. To wit:

  • All double entendres aside, why would a guy carry a snake in his pocket?
  • Why did the snake stay in his pocket? In my experience, snakes tend to prefer stillness and solitude, and they tend to seek them out fairly determinedly.
  • If, for some unfathomable reason, you were walking around with a snake in your pocket (yes, I’m still talking about the reptilian variety), why would you go into a Tim Horton’s? Presumably you’re transporting the snake somewhere for a reason, so why not use the drive-through and carry on to the intended conclusion of your snake-toting?
  • If the “unfathomable reason” was a pleasant outing for the snake, there are lots of better places to take it. As far as I know, snakes don’t like coffee or sandwiches. Not even Tim Horton’s coffee.
  • If you’re carrying around a snake with the intent to fling it, why not just fling it and be done? Get in, fling the snake, get out, go get your sandwich at a different Timmie’s.
  • Why was it so important that the Tim Horton’s employee dice the onions? Why wouldn’t the guy pull out a jackknife and chop the onions himself? Or if he didn’t have a tool in his pocket, (hence his need for the snake, perhaps…?), why not just break the onions into pieces with his fingers? They should have been clean – his momma must have told him to always wash his hands after handling his snake.
  • Who, in the extremities of irritation, decides to reach into somebody else’s pocket for what was clearly an inoffensive critter (at least to the snake-toter, who theoretically must have been sanguine about his reptilian pocket pet)?

So many questions… just one answer: Only in Saskatchewan.

(If you don’t believe me, I offer this YouTube clip as evidence. This is part of the half-time show from the 2013 Grey Cup, played in Regina, Saskatchewan. Check out the maniac on the snowmobile behind the band. Yep, I rest my case.)

* * *

Book 9 draft is at 90% and we have a title!  SPY HIGH will be coming out in January… cover art coming soon!

Virtual Cookie Exchange

cookie exchange

We interrupt this regularly scheduled blog to bring you… cookies!  And fudge!  And snackables!

My blogging buddy Linda Grimes invited me to participate in a virtual cookie exchange, and being the foodie I am, I couldn’t resist.  I promised her my simplest no-cook 3-ingredient fudge and a couple of other super-quick recipes that make you look like a holiday hero for making goodies from scratch.

Author Linda Poitevin is hosting this festival of yumminess.  Here’s a  list of all the recipes so far, and she’ll be posting another update today and again next week.

Here you go – happy snacking!

Simple Chocolate* Fudge

1 – 300ml can of sweetened condensed milk (about 1-1/4 cups – it doesn’t have to be perfect)

2-1/4 cups chocolate* chips

3 tablespoons butter

Instructions:  Melt everything together, stir well, and pour into greased 9×9 pan.  Chill.  Eat.

(Note:  If you’re using the microwave, only nuke in short bursts until the milk gets hot and then stir until the chips melt.  If you over-nuke it the chocolate chips turn to cardboard instead of melting.)

*Tip for holiday heroes:  You can make this into any kind of fudge you want – just use a different kind of chips.  White chocolate, milk chocolate, butterscotch, whatever.  If you want to be fancy, throw in some chopped nuts, crushed candy canes, dried cranberries, chopped-up candy bars, or whatever else moves you. If you want to go all Martha Stewart and give homemade fudge as a gift, make a double batch and chill it in a parchment-lined loaf pan, then slice it into slabs the way the fudge shops do.

Simple Peanut Butter Fudge*

1 cup butter

1 cup peanut butter

1 teaspoon vanilla

3-1/2 cups icing sugar (powdered sugar)

Instructions:  Melt the first 3 ingredients together, stir in the icing sugar, and press into greased 9×9 pan.  Chill.  Eat.

*Tip for holiday heroes:  Make the peanut butter fudge first, then make a batch of chocolate fudge and spread it over top.  Choco-peanut-butter fudge, hello.  This almost fills the 9×9 pan, so if you like your fudge a little thinner, put it in a 9×13 pan instead.

Ranch Crispix Snack*

1 box Crispix cereal

1 box mini-Ritz crackers

1 bag cheddar Fishie crackers

1 bag pretzel twists

1-1/2 cups roasted almonds/pecans/macadamias, whatever

1/3 cup canola/sunflower/corn oil

2 envelopes Hidden Valley Original Ranch Dressing mix

2 or 3 tablespoons dried dill

Instructions: Throw everything in a paper bag* and shake well.  Pour out.  Eat.

*This recipe might sound kinda gross to those who don’t like ranch flavour, but it’s irresistible if you like tangy, crunchy, salty snacks. And you can shake it up in anything you have handy – a turkey roaster or covered pail or whatever.

And now…

Since this is actually supposed to be a cookie exchange, here are my favourite molasses spice cookies.  They do require baking so they’re not quite as fast and simple as the first three recipes, but they’re soooo worth it!

Chewy Molasses Spice Cookies

3/4 cup melted butter

1 cup sugar

1 large egg

4 tablespoons dark molasses

1 teaspoon ginger

1 teaspoon cloves

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

Instructions: Mix the first 4 ingredients together, then add the rest and mix well.  Roll into teaspoon-sized balls*, dunk in sugar, and place on a greased baking sheet.  Flatten with a fork* and bake at 350 degrees approximately 12 – 14 minutes or until lightly browned.

*Note to Linda Grimes – I know this one has more ingredients than you want to deal with, but you gotta give me credit – continuing in your fine tradition, I said “balls” and “fork”.

Prickly Neighbours

I’m not a talented travel writer like my blogging buddy Sue Slaght, but here’s what we’re doing this week:

That’s Hubby mugging with our new neighbours, the saguaro cacti (also prickly pears in the foreground)

That’s Hubby mugging with our new neighbours, the saguaro cacti (also prickly pears in the foreground)

Yes, we’re on vacation this week, and it’s made me realize I don’t get out much.  It’s not that I don’t know what the outside world is like; it’s just that I kinda… forgot.

I had to laugh at myself when we got off the plane in Phoenix, Arizona.  I was harbouring a mental image and expectation of barren desert.  Which it is… outside the city.

And I was thinking Phoenix wasn’t actually much larger than Calgary… which it isn’t, until you add in the urban sprawl that includes about fourteen cities, all of them around the size of Phoenix.

So as a result of these comforting delusions I was semi-expecting an airport approximately the size of Calgary International, which, while not tiny, has lots of wide open spaces and is relatively easy to navigate.

When I got off the plane I nearly turned tail and ran back to beg them to take me somewhere less crowded.  Holy shit, there were a lot of people!

I know you seasoned travellers are laughing at me now, because Phoenix Sky Harbour is small compared to lots of other airports.  But my regular comfort zone is about two people per thousand square feet and I really prefer two people per square mile, so two people per square yard was a bit of a shock.

But I comforted myself with the knowledge that we’d be getting on the interstate freeway and heading out into the desert on our way to Tucson, so I’d soon be on the wide-open road.

Or not.

I10 from Phoenix to Tucson is not ‘the wide-open road’.  Just sayin’.  That’s what rush-hour city traffic looks like where I come from.

And I’m not really an ‘interstate’ kind of person.  I like the back roads, where I can get close to the fields and untouched places and see the indigenous plants and birds and critters.  You don’t see much of that from the interstate.  I glimpsed some big areas of saguaro cactus, but they whisked by in a blur at 75 mph.  I spotted some cotton fields, but they were blurry with speed and distance, too.

Fortunately I’ve had a chance to go out and poke around in the desert for the last couple of days.  I’ve bought my obligatory field guide, and I’ve been having fun trying to identify all the native vegetation.  I recognize the prickly pear cactus from home (it does actually grow in some areas of Alberta), but around here it looks as though it’s on steroids.

We’ve been doing the tourist thing around Tucson, seeing the Pima Air and Space Museum and the Desert Museum and the Colossal Cave so far.  The Biosphere 2 is still on a tentative list, and I’m sure there are lots of other fascinating things to see and do around here.

And my life is complete because I’ve now met a saguaro up close and personal (but not too close – I’m not crazy about cactus spines).

What’s new and exciting in your world this week?

Dear Truckers…

Dear Truckers,

I just got back from driving another 2,400 km trip across the Canadian prairies, and now I’m sad.

I always looked up to you as professional drivers. I admired your skill and courage as you pushed through summer storms and winter blizzards. I respected the personal sacrifices demanded by an exhausting job that kept you far from your friends and family.

I loved to watch a semi starting up from a dead stop: the cab of the tractor torquing with sheer brute power; the big diesel engine growling and snorting. I always enjoyed the sight of your big rigs gobbling up the miles. I liked the thought that in each of those cabs was someone who loved the open road as much as I do.

But my last couple of trips have ended all that.

Maybe some of you are still dedicated professionals, but too many of you are downright dangerous. I spent my drive in dread of having to pass you. Five different truck drivers nearly wiped me off the road; veering into my lane and weaving back and forth. One even drove down the centreline for several miles at a time. If I’d had any safe place to pull over, I’d have called 911 and reported that guy, but I didn’t dare stop in case he caught up and actually succeeded in killing me on his next try. 

I always give you lots of space and make sure I’m driving consistently so you don’t get any surprises.  I know cars can be hard to see from where you sit so I always make sure I’m visible in your mirrors, but that didn’t matter because these guys weren’t watching their mirrors.  Or the road.

Years ago we rarely saw a wrecked semi unless the road conditions were truly fearsome, but I saw three fresh wrecks during this trip. There was bright sunshine and unlimited visibility. A long straight four-lane divided highway on flat prairie. Perfect driving conditions. I don’t know what you’re doing up there in that cab, but you’re not paying attention to driving. Maybe you’re texting or talking on the phone or, like one guy I saw, reading a book propped against the steering wheel.

Why would you do that?

You know you can’t stop an 80,000-pound vehicle on a dime. You know what happens if you run into a smaller vehicle.

When I was young, we called you Knights of the Road. You looked out for us little folk, and you were heroes to stranded motorists. In a blizzard, we knew if we could find a semi and follow its taillights we’d be okay. Now you’re just as likely to lead us over the edge of a cliff.

I’m so disappointed. I feel as though the big brother or sister I’ve idolized all my life has turned out to be a fraud.

I know the days of stopping to help other motorists are long gone, made impossible by your ridiculously tight schedules and the added dangers of armed nutcases and heavy traffic. But do you really care so little about your professional pride and the safety of other motorists that you won’t even bother to drive a straight line?

Come back, Knights of the Road. I miss you. I miss the joy of driving and the sense of safety you used to give me.

And I don’t want to become a grease spot under your wheels.

With sincere sadness,

Diane

* * *

Sorry it’s not my regular foolishness today. I usually love driving that trip, but those drivers really spoiled it for me.  I guess I’m lucky they didn’t spoil it permanently.

Just to show I haven’t completely lost my sense of humour, though, I’d like to share a little personal revelation I had somewhere around the middle of Saskatchewan.  I was singing along with my music as usual when I suddenly realized that I am incapable of screeching out high notes without simultaneously clenching the steering wheel in a white-knuckled grip and contorting my face in a horrible grimace.

Between my awful caterwauling and my scary expression, it’s no wonder the truckers try to run me off the road.

P.S. Something weird is going on with either WordPress or my domain today.  I’m sorry if the blog won’t behave – I’m trying to figure out the problem.  In the mean time, as they say:  “Call me if you don’t get this message”.