Lessons I have learned

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As Snoopy in the Peanuts comic strip would write, “It was a dark and stormy night.” It was dark and stormy last February on the evening I was hit by a car. I realized the car wasn’t going to miss me, so I jumped in the air. It was either that or be dragged underneath. As a result, the bumper hit my left ankle, dislocating and breaking it. I tried to get up as the pain wasn’t evident at first. I fell, looked down and thought, “Damn!” (paraphrased) as I realized that my foot was facing the wrong way.

You have weird thoughts at a time like this. One of them was that I could understand how an athlete could finish the game with a broken bone. An ambulance took me to the Hôpital Jean-Talon where some of the staff spoke no English and my smattering of French didn’t extend to most things medical. I spent the rest of the week at the hospital eating the blandest food imaginable. One night I phoned Lyle Stewart and begged him to bring me some food with taste. It was a Micky D’s Crispy Chicken Trio that I devoured like a starving, slavering dog.

My adventure with vehicles didn’t stop there though. At the local Provigo I used an electric cart they had available for handicapped people like me. The first time was without incident. The second time, I used a different model. It was fine until I took it loaded with groceries down an escalator to the basement garage. I discovered there were no brakes, toggling reverse did nothing, and the stop button didn’t stop the runaway cart.

Yelling shiiiiit, I flew like a bat out of hell down the escalator on my personal luge. I remember seeing glimpses of shocked faces as I sped downward. Of course, waiting at the bottom were all the last-chance bargains that stores use to entice shoppers to spend a few more dollars. Somehow by the grace of a higher deity I managed to steer through them. The last obstacle was the smoke shop with its glass walls. I desperately steered and made it through the door and angled the cart into the cash register counter. Sliding along the counter, the store’s back wall finally stopped my mad dash.

A shaken employee asked me if I was okay. I truthfully answered that I wasn’t sure as I had taken a heavy-duty pain killer about 20 minutes earlier. Several more concerned staff members arrived to see if I had survived intact. One of them said he had never seen anyone travel that fast down the escalator before.

Later, I would see a warning on the cart saying not to use it on the escalator – but it was only in French.

So what lessons did I learn from all this? The first one is that no matter how old you are you still must be careful when crossing the road. The second one is that cold water can be a luxury. So, if you have a friend, family member or someone you care for with limited mobility, please make sure they have access to a cold drink. Yes, you can drink warm water but it’s not as nice. And thirdly, the laws on French should not apply in situations concerning health, safety or the well-being of any person.


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