Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Date with death a tad disappointing

No bright light, no angels, just doughnuts

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All things considered, I'd have to say it was pretty disappointing.

My life didn't flash before my eyes. There was no bright light at the end of a tunnel. No late family members descended from the heavens to offer soothing words of advice or stock tips.

It was early Wednesday evening and I was driving my beloved, albeit extremely dirty, old car along Corydon Avenue en route to a charity function.

I was supposed to be one of the "stars" at Date With A Star, a fundraising event for the Learning Disabilities Association of Manitoba wherein outstanding local personalities such as myself are doled out as dinner companions to groups of unsuspecting strangers.

I was looking forward to the evening because, as a crusading newspaper columnist, I find it difficult to say no to a free meal.

So there I was, innocently driving along at the speed of airport luggage, thinking deep journalistic thoughts ("I wish I had a topic for tomorrow's column!") when -- and this was suddenly and without warning -- a Dodge Neon containing two young women blasted out of a back lane, employing the popular stomp-on-the-gas-and-hope-for-the-best winter driving technique.

"Surely they must see me?" is what I assumed as they rocketed towards the passenger side of my car.

"No, apparently not," I concluded as, with a sickening crumpling sound, their tiny car slammed into the front right side of my dusty sedan, pushing me through two lanes of traffic and depositing me and a bunch of debris that used to be my car in the bus lane on the other side of Corydon.

You know what I was thinking at that moment? I personally don't have a clue. I know the radio was on, but I don't remember what song was playing. I sincerely hope it wasn't something wildly inappropriate like Muskrat Love or Afternoon Delight.

After the collision, here's what I was thinking: Wow! We are really lucky to be alive!

In the split second when the other car struck mine, there wasn't any oncoming traffic. If there had been, chances are I wouldn't be sitting at my computer writing this heart-warming recollection of my first real car crash.

Anyway, I sat there for a few minutes composing myself, because I find there's nothing like a surprise car crash to trigger a few moments of deep introspection.

The first thing I did was activate my car's emergency flashers so other drivers would be impressed by my automotive know-how. I did that right after calling my wife to ask where the button to activate my emergency flashers was located.

After examining myself for signs of imminent death, I hopped out of my rearranged vehicle to check on the condition of the people in the other car, who turned out to be two young women even younger than my own college-age daughter.

"Are you OK?" I asked in a medically gentle tone.

"I'M SO SORRY! IT WAS ALL MY FAULT! ARE YOU OK! I'M REALLY, REALLY SORRY!" is what the young woman who'd been driving the Dodge squealed at me.

At this point, traffic on Corydon had pretty much come to a halt to ensure other drivers could get a good look at what must have been a pretty fascinating scene.

The young driver carefully returned her car to the back lane, then we sat down and exchanged information. I called the police because I have seen people do that on TV before. The police politely informed me that I should call a tow truck and stop bothering them.

This is when my wife arrived on the scene to demonstrate how a modern smartphone can be used to call a tow truck.

It's safe to say we all felt extremely lucky not to be dead. I base that on the fact, every other second, one of us would spontaneously mutter: "We sure are lucky not to be dead!"

I was smart enough to eventually call my buddy Big Daddy Tazz, the comedian, because after a near-death experience it is always important to speak with a comedian.

"Are you OK?" Tazz asked me.

"Yes, I think so," I replied.

"Good, then text me a picture of your car so I can see how squished it is," Tazz advised me.

After the tow truck arrived, my wife took me home, with a brief stop to buy (a) lottery tickets in hopes of cashing in on my obviously good luck; and (b) a box of doughnuts.

We didn't win anything on the (bad word) lottery tickets, but, what with walking away from a nasty crash, I have to say that doughnuts have never tasted so good.

doug.speirs@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 1, 2013 A2

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