Saturday, November 04, 2006

Historically I have used this space to describe my own foibles as I struggle through everyday life, but sometimes I witness others at low moments in their lives and I just have to share these stories. Some would say I am making myself feel better at the expense of others, but I prefer to think that looking back on the humor of a situation is better for everybody involved. Today I feel much like the guy who recounted the tale of a would-be hit and run driver who was pummeled by a foursome of grannies.

About this time last year the Corb Lund band was rocketing up the country charts with their runaway hit “The Truck Got Stuck.” In this song they detail numerous attempts to free a pickup truck from a prairie quagmire. Who would have thought that yesterday morning, from my window high above Marpole Avenue in decidedly urban Vancouver, I would witness a near perfect reenactment of the song?

It would seem that the mansion across the way that is currently the home of the University Women’s Club has hired some contractors to assess the stability of their retaining wall. I think it was about 11:00 yesterday morning that I looked out the window and exclaimed about two trucks parked on the sidewalk across the street. There was a black pickup truck in the front and a blue full-sized SUV in behind. I thought it was a bit of an obnoxious place to leave their trucks, but if I had known how much entertainment they would provide, I surely would have kept my mouth shut.

It all started a few minutes later. Perhaps they decided that rather than walking to the next section of wall they would drive so they wouldn’t have to lug their equipment by hand. The guy got into his black pickup and hit the accelerator and the mud started flying. The truck didn’t budge an inch, and as people who have never been stuck in the mud before tend to do, the driver applied more gas and buried his tires deeper and deeper into the soft ground in front of the multi-million dollar mansion.

By the time the tire was in mud up to the lug nuts, the two decided they weren’t going to get out the easy way, and had more or less ensured that they would not be able to get out the second or third easiest way either. At this point a rational person would call a tow truck, but these two decided that they would use their own ingenuity to solve this little problem.

Plan A was to push the truck out. The driver would hit the gas and his associate would push on the tailgate with all his might. They succeeded in adding about six inches to the length of the rut they had carved in the ground, but the truck remained thoroughly stuck. Apparently they determined that there was too much weight in the back of the truck for this method to work, so they emptied the bed and tried again, once again they were thwarted by the mud. In a final modification to Plan A, the pusher decided to stop pushing and instead stand on the back bumper and bounce up and down while the driver hit the gas. I was staring out the window simultaneously hoping the truck would get some traction and send the pusher flying and hoping that if they did so, he would not break his neck. I got the portable phone just in case I had to call 911. As you can imagine, the truck remained stuck.

After these failed attempts a rational person would call a tow truck, but these two ascertained that with a little more traction under the tires they would be able to get the truck out of the rut. Not being on the prairies meant that there was no genetically modified canola seed around to put under the tires, but they did have at their disposal what could be considered to be the next best thing. Seeing as how they were working on the retaining wall, they happened to have in their possession a few bags of cement mix, and they started to unload it into the rut. Apparently the cement needed time to set because at this point, they proceeded to take their equipment by hand down the wall, and do whatever work they were supposed to be doing. It was fine with me, I needed a break for lunch anyway.

Some time later, having finished the work they were tasked to do, they returned to the truck to complete the more complex project of getting the truck out of the mud. It would seem that the concrete had time to set so they took there respective positions as driver and pusher and went about trying to get the truck out again. Despite the added traction of the concrete, the tires spun mercilessly in the mud and the truck remained stuck.

At this point a rational person would call a tow truck, but for these two a new plan was required, one that was a complete departure from things which had already been attempted. I can only imagine the sparkle in their eyes as they realized that only one truck was stuck and that they had a whole other truck at their disposal. The driver of the blue SUV hopped in the cab of his truck, and was delighted to discover that he was not stuck. He slowly crept to within inches of the black pickup under the direction of the black pickup driver. Then the driver got into the black pickup and the fun began. Ever so carefully the blue SUV made contact with the black pickup and began to push. At the same time the driver of the black pickup applied the gas and the tire started turning. In a manner of course the truck triumphantly rose from the rut where it had been stuck. There was traffic on Marpole Avenue, so he couldn’t completely get off the sidewalk, but he was out. The driver of the blue SUV backed off and the two exchanged hoorahs and high fives. If only they knew that this story was only half over their jubilation may not have been so overt.

At a break in traffic, the driver of the blue SUV took the opportunity to drive off the sidewalk and onto the street, where he promptly turned on his 4-way flashers to give the driver of the black pickup the chance to pull his truck onto the street without worrying about oncoming traffic. The driver of the black pickup is apparently a slow learner because instead of inching his truck off the grass, he once again stomped on the gas, and as you can imagine the tires started spinning once again and within seconds he was once again buried to the lug nuts in mud.

At times like this a rational person would call a tow truck, but with one truck on the road and the other stuck in the mud, the two came up with a brilliant plan. They decided to try and tow the truck out of the mud themselves. The only problem was they had neither a chain nor a rope. What they did have was an industrial extension cord. They determined that it would do. The driver of the pickup tied the cord to the frame of his truck and then took the other end to the back of the blue SUV. I was pondering how many seconds the cord would hold up under the strain of two trucks. I estimated fives seconds as they proceeded to tie the loose end to the trailer hitch of the SUV. I did not have to wait long to find out. The driver of the blue SUV hit the gas. The cord pulled tight. The pickup did not move an inch. The cord snapped instantly and fell to the ground, and the hapless contractors were back at square one, down one industrial extension cord. Not quite ready to give up on the idea of towing, they checked the back of another pickup parked on the side of the road, but they would not find anything worthy of a tow job. Traffic was backing up on Marpole as it was down to a single eastbound lane. They put their heads together once again.

Having tried everything they had, a rational person would call a tow truck, but these two decided it was wiser to build on previous success. They decided that pushing was the answer so they backed the SUV down Marpole while traffic scrambled to get out of the way. Getting the SUV back over the curb presented a challenge itself, and I suspect that about half the rear left tire rubbed off on the curb while the rear right tire was spinning in the mud on the other side. Eventually, after leaving a lengthy tire track in the grass, they got the SUV back up onto the sidewalk, and once again slowly crept up to within inches of the black pickup.

Again the driver got into the truck and they carefully locked bumpers. The blue SUV strained and the black pickup inched forward. The SUV kept pushing and the pickup kept moving forward. Eventually the truck once again triumphantly emerged from the rut and perched upon level ground. Another celebratory high five was in order, and then the two proceeded to bury the evidence with freshly fallen wet leaves.

It was about three hours after they first got stuck that they finally got both trucks off the sidewalk and onto the road. A rational person would have called a tow truck, but they both drove off presumably proud of their accomplishment, and perhaps with a few waning chords of Corb Lund’s song echoing in their heads.


Sharon B said...

Oh my land, I am laughing my head off!! I had to keep asking myself if you were making this up, but I don't think anybody could conjure up that much idiocy :) It just goes to show you what richness of human experience is right in front of your eyes - but you have to have the soul of a writer to see it in such vivid detail, and then convey it to readers so they can see it, too. Thanks for a wonderful laugh :)

8:23 PM, November 04, 2006  
Joan said...

Check out Andrew's last link in the story for evidence that the story is indeed true!!

11:18 PM, November 04, 2006  
Auntie Sue said...

Well Andrew you have out-done yourself on this one! I was on the edge of my seat as the story progressed, laughing all the while.
There was something about "I got the portable phone just in case I had to call 911" that made the whole thing just perfect, and I loved your repetition of "a rational person would have called a tow truck" - brilliant!
I'm going to return to read it again and again.

6:40 AM, November 05, 2006  
Sharon B said...

Wow, I have seen those infamous guys and their vehicles with my own eyes! That was the icing on the cake - thanks for pointing it out, Joan :)

6:24 PM, November 05, 2006  
Auntie Sue said...

I saw them too! You guys are really on the ball - we just have to come here now for our entertainment!

8:10 PM, November 05, 2006  
Kathryn said...

Your account of the adventure was so vivid that all I could do was just shake my head and think to myself, "Guys, call the stupid tow truck!!!" :)

8:50 PM, November 06, 2006  

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