The true story of how I met my wife
Part Five—How Long Does it Take to Freeze Solid?
I am something of a problem solver and, at times, I even can be resourceful. As I saw it, the essential problem to solve was, get gas into the car. This had been a problem of growing importance all evening. Now, facing a cold death, it overshadowed all others.
To solve that problem, we needed two things: One, a source of gasoline, and two, since the car wasn’t moving, a way to get the fuel to the car. As it was, I had the second item covered. I had a gas container in the trunk. It was small, but large enough. The first issue, the hunt for gas to fill the container, would be the challenge.
I could have called CAA (Canada’s version of AAA). However, this was before anyone I knew had a mobile phone, so we would have had to find a payphone to make the call. It seemed just as sensible to look for gas as much as a phone. Also, I was not sure exactly where I was.
A plan was formed. The guys, Drayson and I, were chosen to hunt for gas, but more likely to freeze to death quickly outside. On the other hand, the girls, Veta and Anne-Marie, had the task of freezing to death slowly in the car.
Among the four of us we had only a single pair of gloves, Anne-Marie’s isotoners, which she graciously donated to the guys. Drayson wore one glove and I the other. I got the gas can out of the trunk and the girls locked the doors behind us. With my gloved hand gripping the empty gas container, we ran north up Dunn Avenue away from the highway, in the most likely direction to find a gas station.
As fast as we could, slipping and sliding in dress shoes, we ran up the street. Dark houses and low-rise apartments seemed to watch us with disinterest as we ran with single-minded purpose. A few tires had left us a track in the road, making the run a little less arduous. After about a quarter mile, we came to an intersection at King Street. Looks in both directions revealed only darkness. We continued north.
After another exhausting quarter mile, we came to a “T” intersection. Now we would have to decide on a direction to continue, either left or right. The wrong choice could be deadly, taking us farther and farther from the precious fuel we needed. Looking left, we again saw no signs of life. Looking right, less than a hundred feet away, we saw the bright lights of an open gas station. We decided to go right.
I was filled with a bewildering mix of exhaustion at the effort to get here; relief of finding what we were after; and anxiety as to how the girls were fairing. I walked up to a vacant pump and filled the container with about $1.15 worth of gas. When I paid the attendant inside, he gave me a puzzled look. He must have wondered, who stops to put a mere gallon of gas in their car?
With our precious liquid acquired, we retraced our steps as fast as we could. Somehow, the trip back seemed longer and more strenuous. Drayson and I took turns carrying the gas container, now considerably heavier.
All I could think of at this point was that Veta and Anne-Marie must be dead. Either they were frozen solid as Omaha Steaks or they had been brutally done in by some crazed murderer. (I found out later that actually there is a mental hospital near where the car was parked. I’m glad I didn’t know that at the time. I was paranoid enough without having that bit of knowledge to fuel my imagination.)
Approaching the car, we could not see inside, since the windows had fogged up. Neither could anyone inside see out. Hence I startled the still-living occupants with my fumbling to fill the tank as quickly as possible.
Freshly fueled, the car restarted after a couple tries. I wiped off the inside of the windshield and we drove up to the gas station we had just left to fill the tank properly. Amazingly enough, the drive up to Queen Street seemed much quicker than the run had been.
At the station, I pulled up to the outer set of pumps, next to the street. About that moment, I noticed that a lime green and white VW mini-van, a la Scooby Doo’s Mystery Machine, was about to make a left turn from Queen Street into the gas station, too. There was, however, a little obstacle; a three foot high mound of freshly plowed snow blocked the gas station entrance.
The driver, I assumed, felt that the solution to this obstruction was to apply more speed. Accordingly, he accelerated as he turned into the driveway. He had been right. The van’s momentum obliterated the mound in a snow explosion. The snow, for its part, did almost nothing to slow down the van now heading straight for my car.
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21/Mar/2007 – Beginnings, Part Five 3 comments