I was reminded of that on the weekend when an interesting phenomenon occurred. A friend had stopped his vehicle in front of our house in order to say hello and we quickly became engrossed in a street-blocking conversation. With a shovel in hand, I looked down the street and saw a neighbour, Kelly Wenzel, approaching from the west and thought I had better shut up and move out of the way. However, before I could end the conversation, Kelly turned south and drove out of sight. To my surprise, he drove around the block in order to reach his house which is practically across the street from my dwelling. There have been a few times that people went out of their way to avoid me, but it was not for reasons of goodwill. Until Sunday, I had never seen a driver detour around a block so chatty people on the street did not have to end their conversation or get out of the way.
The situation caused me to think of occasions when I had to stop behind two motorists in opposite lanes who were having a conversation. We live in a small town and sooner or later everyone does it – it’s a common practice that can cause traffic to back up if the drivers are not considerate or fail to notice approaching vehicles have been forced to stop behind them. I hate to admit that I tend to get a little impatient in such situations while waiting for drivers to move their vehicles to the side of the street or continue on their way. It seems as if a 20- to 30-second delay is somehow stretched into two or three frustrating minutes. I have never blown my horn or shouted in such a situation, but I am sure my facial expression conveyed my feelings as my fingers impatiently tapped the steering wheel. Most city drivers are far more direct and freely express their feeling when a similar situation is encountered.
As for me, there may be a change in my career in the very near future. It all began last week when my wife and I went out for Chinese dinner. When I checked my fortune cookie, it had some very encouraging words. It stated, “Participation in sports may lead you to a lucrative career.” I was immediately excited since my childhood dream of being an NHL player had ended in the minors (minor sports) at age 15 when it became evident I did not have enough years in my life to perfect my hockey skills.
I then started downhill skiing and tried the competitive scene, but quickly found I had more adrenaline than skill. Perfecting fabulous wipeouts became my specialty. My most terrifying experience occurred when I launched skyward off a jump and missed the landing area. Landing at a high rate of speed in crusty snow, I immediately dug in and did a face plant and half flip. Somehow my neck did not break, but my head, arms (with ski poles attached), feet (still in the skies) were solidly buried beneath the snow. Feeling like a turtle on its back, I thrashed about wildly for 10 to 20 seconds before my head finally broke through the snow pack. Then embarrassment and reality set in and my daredevil days on the slopes ended.
I turned my attention to motorcycles and the thrill of speed and action. Spills in the dirt or on gravel roads were painful, but nowhere near as painful as contacting asphalt. It was unforgiving and always demanded payment in skin and living tissue if leathers were not worn. My most embarrassing moment on a street bike occurred while I was dating my wife to be. While entering a corner on a dirt road, the front tire caught a deep rut. Recovery was impossible. The bike did a forward flip and launched Angela and myself in a huge arc as it tumbled forward. Everyone including the bike survived with only minor damage.
As for my future sports career, I carefully considered the wording on my fortune cookie. “Participation in sports . . .” may be possible at many levels and a more humble sport such as shuffleboard or lawn bowling is likely awaiting me at the championship level. It also occurred to me that purchasing sports lottery tickets or placing Internet bets on professional sporting events could be considered a “lucrative career” if a person can win. However, based on my performance in sports, I will remain an armchair quarterback and minor sports pro. At this point in my life, that’s living the dream.