The story so far... Mark is spending a few days driving loads between Toronto and Barrie for a warehousing company that's moving their whole operation. The work is profitable, but driving the 401 and ...
The story so far… Mark is spending a few days driving loads between Toronto and Barrie for a warehousing company that’s moving their whole operation. The work is profitable, but driving the 401 and 400 all day is frustrating, especially when car drivers keep cutting him off and butting into the safe following distance Mark’s trying to keep in front of him. At the next on-ramp Mark straddles the lane to keep traffic moving, infuriating drivers behind him, and attracting the attention of a cop up ahead.
Mark continues driving the loads and nearly gets run off the highway by a pair of street racing imports -a lime-green Honda and a tangerine Nissan -who dart through traffic, cutting off everyone in their path. When Mark is forced onto the shoulder, nearly losing his load, he gets furious and vows to get even with the street racing maniacs.
Mark reached the warehouse in Toronto in time to take another load into Barrie before the end of the day. As he was waiting for his trailer to be loaded and sealed, Mark called the 1-800 number for the O. P. P. to put in a complaint about driving conditions on the 400. He didn’t expect much to come of it, but he figured it wouldn’t hurt to call and voice his concerns, maybe even give the police the licence number of the terror in the lime-green Honda.
The officer on the phone was polite and professional and took Mark’s complaint in a way that sounded like he cared. In the end, however, the officer informed Mark that there wasn’t a lot they could do in response to such a complaint.
“I’ll make note of the licence plate, sir,” the officer said. “But unless one of our officers is witness to a driving offense, or the car is found to be illegally modified after a traffic stop, there’s not a lot we can do.”
“I understand,” Mark said. “Thanks anyway.”
Mark hung up and thought about what the officer had said about the car being illegally modified. That jogged Mark’s memory about how new laws in Ontario would give the police the power to seize cars driving on public roads that had been extensively modified for racing.
“That would be sweet!” Mark said out loud.
But would it ever happen?
Every day people pledge money in court and act as sureties in order to bail their friends and family out of jail. And every day people out on bail breach the conditions of their release and find themselves right back in jail again. But how often do the people who pledge their money to the court actually lose it when the person they’ve bailed is re-arrested? Hardly ever.
Politicians and everyone else are always talking about getting tough on crime and cracking down on street racing, but that’s only when those things are in the news. Every time some teenager or innocent bystander is gunned down it’s suddenly time to get tough on gun crime. Or some truck driver is run off the road and a mother-of- two is killed in her mini-van, and it’s time to crack down on street racers. But a month or two down the road, when the incident is all but forgotten, there will be few people who remember the urgency of the days immediately following the tragic death.
It has gotten to the point where even the Vatican had to get in on the act with their “Guidelines For the Pastoral Care of the Road,” or as everyone else calls them, “The Ten Carmandments.”
1. You shall not kill.
2. The road shall be for you a means of communion between people and not mortal harm.
3. Courtesy, uprightness and prudence will help you deal with unforeseen events.
4. Be charitable and help your neighbour in need, especially victims of accidents.
5. Cars shall not be for you an expression of power and domination, and an occasion of sin.
6. Charitably convince the young and not so young not to drive when they are not in a fitting condition to do so.
7. Support the families of accident victims.
8. Bring guilty motorists and their victims together, at the appropriate time, so that they can undergo the liberating experience of forgiveness.
9. On the road, protect the more vulnerable party.
10. Feel responsible toward others. Sound advice, each one of them, but forgiveness, courtesy and charity weren’t exactly on Mark’s mind after nearly being run off the road. Perhaps, thought Mark, the Vatican had mistakenly omitted the other carmandments, the ones that dealt with revenge, retribution and punishment.
Mark considered writing up a few guidelines of his own, then sending them along to the Pope for his consideration. After all, Mark was sure he had a few more road hours under his belt than his Holiness.
Mark pulled into a truck stop off the 400 halfway to Barrie with the intention of taking a break and grabbing a bite before finishing his last run of the day. After pulling into a parking spot, Mark checked his mirrors to make sure he was safe and not in anyone’s way.
And that’s when he saw them.
Behind Mother Load, near the very edge of the parking lot were two very distinct cars. One was a tangerine Nissan, while the other was a lime-green Honda with flames flickering down the entire side of the car.
“Unbelievable!” he said under his breath.
Mark’s first instinct was to look around for a cop. It wasn’t an absurd thought since plenty of officers parked in the truck stops when things were slow or they had paperwork to do. And if he could find a cop, he might be able to persuade the officer to check the cars over and maybe even pull them off the road. But as much as Mark wanted there to be a policeman around, there were none in sight.
Okay, he thought, if there isn’t a cop around then maybe I can do something about this myself.
Mark thought about that for a while and in the end decided that he wasn’t all that hungry and dinner could wait
until after he’d made it into Barrie. After that decision was made, there was nothing left for him to do but get back onto the highway.
Mark restarted Mother Load and waited until everything was warm and back up running normally. Then he put Mother Load into gear…Reverse.
He backed up slowly, so he wasn’t going all that fast when the rear end of his trailer connected with the lime-green Honda. But then again the trailer was fully loaded with everything from books to batteries and what Mark lacked in speed he more than made up for in mass.
Mother Load pushed the lime-green Honda across the parking lot as if it were an empty cardboard box. In fact, the Honda barely lost any momentum when it smashed into the tangerine Nissan behind it. Mother Load and her trailer just kept moving and together the rig and the two cars behind it skidded and screeched across the asphalt until they were forced to a sudden stop by a light post that marked the very edge of the parking lot.
The post was sturdy and the passenger- side door of the Nissan folded around it like a card -its window bursting outward like a paper party favour. Then, satisfied there was nowhere left to go but forward, Mark put Mother Load into first gear and pulled away.
With all the noise of screeching tires, twisting metal and busting glass, several truckers had come out of the restaurant wondering what on Earth was going on? When they saw Mark driving away leaving a mangle of twisted citrus behind him…they began cheering him on as if he’d just won some marathon road race.
“You’re welcome!” Mark said, gesturing to them with something that was halfway between a wave and a salute.
Mark took another look around, just to be sure. He’d needed a policemen before and there hadn’t been one around.
Now, thankfully, there still wasn’t a cop anywhere to be seen. The police would arrive later, and when they did, the drivers lining his way would all swear they hadn’t seen a thing.
He gave a short, sharp blast on his air horn and took one last look behin
d him. The two cars were a tangle of tangerine and lime -an automotive fruit salad that looked a lot like justice.
Mark’s only regret was that he wouldn’t be around to see the drivers’ faces when they saw their cars, then frantically looked around the lot for a cop. Of course, there wouldn’t be one when they needed one, and somehow that seemed right.
“I might never catch you,” he said. “But I assure you, I’ll get even.” •
-Mark Dalton returns next month in another adventure