Tag Archives: accident

Tim Horton’s Car Crash

Reid Dickie

It’s rush hour at Corydon and Stafford, a busy intersection at any time of the day. An hour ago a young woman lost control of her car, veered across the sidewalk and smashed into the west wall of the recently opened Tim Horton’s location at the corner. The hall to the washrooms was a mass of splintered and busted wood and plastic. No one in the store was injured and the driver had minor cuts and bruises. As you can see by the pictures, if she’d been a few feet further to her left, she’d have sheared the gas lines going into the building. It could have been worse. By the way, this Tim Horton’s doesn’t have a drive-thru.

My short video shows the car being hauled away by a tow truck and Winnipeg fire rescue personnel.

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Beauty and The Bridge

Reid Dickie

 “For Beauty is nothing but the beginning of terror we’re still just able to bear.” – Rainer Maria Rilke

“The bridge gathers the earth as landscape around the stream. It does not just connect banks that are already there. The banks emerge as banks only as the bridge crosses the stream.” – Martin Heidegger

            Linda and I have pointed the rental car west on the thin ribbon of possibility called the Trans-Canada Highway. It is a clear spring morning, the sky an exhilarated blue. East of Portage la Prairie, suddenly arising into the pristine day, we see a curling twist of black smoke, ominous but beautiful. It rises quickly into the air a few miles ahead of us. We watch it thicken and grow, wondering what its source could be.

            Two bridges span the Assiniboine River here, one for each traffic direction, separated by several hundred feet. On the eastbound bridge is the source of the dark plume. As we arrive we see a semi trailer truck, just the cab, ablaze on the bridge.

            Flaming fuel drips off the bridge sending small barges of fire floating downstream on the surface of the river. Some of the liquid fire falls onto the riverbank, setting the grass to smoldering. The truck cab is completely engulfed in flame by the time we pull over and park. It seems to be the only vehicle involved in the fire.

            Several other vehicles have stopped on the westbound bridge. We all get out of our cars to stand in helpless awe and watch the fire. Though there is no sign of the driver, we all know there is a human being inside the flames. A walk through hell in a gasoline suit! Someone calls 911 on their cellphone.

            Tires explode sending flames shooting out over the surface of the river like unwholesome fireworks. The flames die in the water, leaving greasy slicks. More cars pull over to join our grim witnessing. The black smoke is so thick it casts a shadow over us. The air grows rancid with the smell of burning fuel, rubber and metal.

            A loud crack comes from inside the column of orange and red flames tinged with petrol blue. In the air is the hiss of fire greeting water and the chatter of fire in dry grass. Someone begins to sob quietly.

            Strangers standing together on a bridge, we will take with us this disturbing vision, the smoky remembrance and the emotional baggage of our chance encounter with the fiery fate of another stranger.

            A few helpless minutes later, we are on the road again. Ambulances, fire trucks and police cars from Portage head past us to the accident scene. The following day we check the newspapers to see what happened on that two-lane concrete span over a prairie river.

            The driver of the truck cab, having left his haul at its destination, was heading home to his young wife for the weekend. As he pulled over to pass a slower moving hough at the entry to the bridge, one of his low side fuel tanks caught the hough and sent the truck spinning around, bursting into flames when it hit the sturdy cement railing along the bridge. The truck driver had no chance of escape and died in the inferno. The driver of the hough, due to his placement on the bridge, was obliged to drive through the wall of flames, escaping shaken but uninjured.

            The black smoke churning into the blue dome, fire falling from the concrete bridge flaring red in green grass, desperate flames spinning in the eddyfied murk of the Assiniboine, the sound of robins and blackbirds from the bushes in the ditch – it is only because we are so close to Grace that this Beauty is bearable.

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Obituary Euphemisms

Reid Dickie

“Some say he’s doing the obituary mambo…” – Tom Waits

“It’s never too early to start beefing up your obituary.” – The Most Interesting Man in the World

There is always an understory to an obituary. I have read and written enough obituaries, including my own, to know what’s being said between the lines. Alarmingly frequently people succumb to short or long battles with cancer or something equally thorough in heroic and/or valiant ways. If not fully stated in the story, the disease becomes explicit in the donations section. Not much mystery there.

Vivacious is a drunk as is his door was always open, so is a character. Fun-loving bachelor and he never married are usually gay; free spirit is unemployable, utterly carefree is utterly senile. Death has its own clichés: passed, passed on, passed away, passed over, passing, met his/her maker, crossed over, departed, lost, ad infinitum.

Finding the hidden meanings in obituary euphemisms can tell the story of an unclear death. Tragically usually denotes an accident. Suddenly indicates suicide more often than not. Unexpectedly cuts closer to suicide. I have even seen by his own hand followed by a short bitter obit. Taken by the Lord is wide open to interpretation as is Ascended.

Since Linda’s death, I have discovered several of life’s loose ends, including writing my own obituary. Very few people write their own obituaries, usually leaving the difficult  task to close family members under stress. I think it would be a loving gesture on anyone’s part at any time of life to write his or her own obituary. Think how much stress you’ll relieve when its time comes. You’ll be even more popular!

There are no children to write my obit, that’s why I did it myself. Plus I’m a writer. I enjoyed it. I recommend it as a thought-provoking exercise in self-awareness. I reflected on what was important to me in my life, what I wanted people to remember about me, my family and my accomplishments. I often tweak it. I chose the picture I want to accompany my obituary in the paper, where to run it, who to contact to get it in the right papers.

This isn’t the first time I’ve written my own obituary. In the late 1960s I attended Ryerson Polytechnical Institute (now University) in downtown Toronto to study radio announcing in a course called Radio & Televisions Arts. The curriculum included a writing class that I was keen to attend. The first day the writing instructor, whose name I have regrettably forgotten, walked in and told a room full of fresh faced kids, including this 19 year old from a little prairie town, that we were all going to die today and needed to write our own obituaries. He gave us very brief guidelines: write it all in past tense, say what you want people to remember about you, a short list of life data to include. We spent the rest of the sombre class quietly pondering our lives and scribbling out our death notices.

At 60 there’s plenty of source material to draw from but at 19, there isn’t a huge pool of fact to access. We were told not to embellish, be truthful. Many were flummoxed, a few, like myself, dived in trying not to flourish too much. One girl started to cry thinking about being dead. She got a pass on the obit. With his introductory bit of drama and flair, the instructor got my attention and I learned a great deal about the craft from him that year.

OBITUARY OUTLINE

An obituary is a person’s final and personal contact with the world. This list offers suggestions on what to include, all are optional. The list is not exhaustive. I provide it as a public service.

  • Intro including date and place of death
  • Predeceased by
  • Leaves to mourn
  • Kind of person she/he was
  • Parent’s names incl. mother’s maiden name
  • Birth date and place
  • Upbringing location and schooling
  • Youthful accomplishments
  • Further education
  • Marriage date, to whom
  • Offspring in birth order
  • Work life
  • Hobbies, sports, pets, achievements, other activities, what gave her/him pleasure
  • Spouse death
  • Life since then
  • Service date time and place
  • Where buried
  • Donations
  • Funeral home in charge

Do you have a last will and testament? Check out my post.

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Filed under Death and Dying, Life and Life Only, Public Service