Sunday, June 11, 2006

Omens and doom and a cat

The release of the remake of The Omen got me to thinking about omens and when they’ve occurred in my life. Which led me to thinking about one of the times that I have blithely ignored many, many omens and plunged ahead to my doom. One of those times involves my arrival in this fair province...

I am an immigrant. A boat person*, if you will. I grew up about 1,000 miles away, southwest of here. I moved here solely because my (now ex, then to be - hereinafter known as X/2B) husband found a job here. I was told it would be for 3 to 5 years, which was a big factor in my decision. You can go anywhere for a few years. That’s an adventure. But moving away for good? Serious shit, people. Had I been told it would be for life (so far), my response would have been, “Have a nice life! Don’t let the door hit you on the ass on the way out!” as I had never particularly wanted to live anywhere but my home province and if I did think about moving it was to somewhere “exciting” like a big city or another country. But that’s another story.

There were omens aplenty that perhaps I’d chosen unwisely on my inaugural journey here. Let's travel back in time to December 1980...

Omen, the first About two weeks before our trip here, we went out to celebrate my birthday. On our way home, we were blindsided by a drunk who thought running a red light would be a sensible choice. Luckily, neither of us was hurt, but it did quite a number on the rear quarter panel of my car. The car we were planning to drive over 1,000 miles in less than two weeks time.

Omen, the second We set out on a lovely winter’s day in January. Clear road, clear skies; we drove the 8 or so hours from Saint John, NB to Sydney, NS uneventfully. So far, so good. Visited a friend of X/2B’s from law school. Had a lovely supper at their house. About half an hour before we were to head for North Sydney to catch the ferry, we looked out the window. How amusing! In the hour and a half we’d been in their house, about two feet of snow had fallen.

Omen, the third The trip from Sydney to North Sydney, which normally takes maybe 35 minutes… took 2 and a half hours. During the ride, the driver’s side wiper blade decided it would not clear a 2 inch-wide swatch directly in the driver’s line of vision, which might be just annoying under some conditions, but renders you completely blind in a snowstorm. But did X/2B pull over? Turn back? Did he heck as like! He wasn’t going to let something as trivial as life-threatening driving conditions stop us! We ended up navigating by me (the passenger) eyeballing the line left in the snow at the edge of the road by the snowplow and advising X/2B accordingly… “A little to the left, now to the right…” Had the plow gone off the road, we would have gone right after it. And we were being followed by an increasingly long line of cars, who were navigating mostly by following us.

Omen, the fourth We finally got to North Sydney, boarded the ferry and, more or less on time, the ferry set sail. Ten minutes out, the water was so rough, people were getting seasick. Luckily, neither X/2B nor I suffer from motion sickness but being surrounded by those who do is no day at the beach.

We continued to sail overnight through the blizzard, however, when we got to our destination, we were unable to enter the narrow channel that leads to the harbour, as the seas were too rough. So we bobbed around just off the coast of Newfoundland like a demented cork. The ferry crossing that normally takes 6 to 8 hours? Took thirty-three and a half hours. That’s 33 ½. Hours. If you looked out the window, it looked like a scene from one of those war movies where they show a destroyer in the North Atlantic and when you look out a porthole you are peering straight up into the sky and then straight down into the water and then sky and then water, then sky, then water… you get the idea. I’ll wait while you get the anti-nausea meds…

Information on exactly what was going on was not forthcoming. Had I been told we were just riding out the storm and everything was fine, I would have been quite comfortable. But total silence and a refusal to provide any information by crew allows your imagination to run wild. Thoughts of the fate of the Titanic became impossible to ignore. The only thing that kept me calm was that none of the other passengers looked frightened. Very, very green, most of them, but not frightened. Perhaps they were just too sick to care and would have welcomed anything that brought relief from the unrelenting nausea, even drowning.

Of course, the ship was only provisioned for an 8 hour crossing, so running out of food was a distinct possibility. Or would have been had all, or even most, of the passengers been capable of eating. I think there were maybe four of us who were still able to hold down food come meal times. The only upside was that they gave it to us for free. As a reward for us having sea legs or as an apology for them being so stupid as to have set sail in the first place, I never found out.

There was one moment of comic relief. As we were sitting in the dining room, one person toppled right over, chair and all. We stifled our laughter, as we neither wanted to be beaten nor cast overboard.

So… thirty-three and a half fun-filled hours later, we docked at Channel-Port-aux-Basques and set out to drive across the island. This is a 10-hour drive during summer conditions. But we weren’t met with nice, dry roads. Oh no.

Omen, the fifth The same blizzard that had made the crossing hell had dropped many, many inches of the lovely white stuff all over the west coast of the island. Instead of setting out on a four-lane divided highway, we were driving on the one lane that the plows had managed to clear, which meant that every time you met a car coming the other way, you both had to slow down to about 30 kph and edge past each other, hoping like hell you didn’t get stuck in the snow on the outside edges of the lane. This lasted for several hours until we finally drove out of the blizzard zone and then were only confronted with the usual joys of drifting snow and black ice.

Omen, the sixth The car we were driving was an old Ford Maverick with a wonky AM radio that worked when and as it pleased. It did not please to work during this entire trip. Which wouldn’t have been so bad, as we had an 8-track player (yeah, we’re old) for entertainment in it, however… unbeknownst to us, our families were a bit alarmed that they hadn’t heard from us within the expected time frame and called the RCMP who put out a bulletin over the radio stations for us to call home. Now, I wanted to call them as soon as we arrived in Port-aux-Basques, because we were already hours behind schedule by then, but Mr. Everything’s-a-Contest wouldn’t stop because we were one of the first cars off the ferry and he didn’t want to get stuck behind all the traffic and when he decided something should or shouldn’t happen, he was a force with which to be reckoned. It was generally just best to clam up and ignore what your common sense told you, because it couldn’t possibly natter on as long as he could. As this was in 1981, long before cell phones, we couldn’t just call while on the road, so while our families had us dead and buried, we were blissfully unaware of their distress. Or rather he was. I knew they’d be worried. But I was young and not yet aware of just how deeply lacking he was in common sense, so I trusted him. Yes, I’m an idiot. And yes, this was Omen, the sixth and a half Telling me that life would be hell with this man**.

We finally trundled into town approximately two days late. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Omen, the seventh Yes, there’s more… While we were traveling, X/2B commented that the car didn’t seem to have the traction it had formerly possessed. We put this down to the terrible driving conditions. Shortly after we arrived here, the car went in for servicing and while it was up on the hoist, it was noticed that it had one summer tire on one of the rear wheels (and it was rear-wheel drive). When the shop had repaired the car, they had put the spare tire, which had a summer tire on it on the car and hadn’t bothered to mention it to us. Unbelievable negligence on their part that couldn’t gotten us killed around town, never mind on the highway.

What's that? I mentioned a cat? Oh. Right. We had a cat in the car with us. A cat who refused all food and drink for the duration of the trip. Which was good, because if he'd been using the litter box that was on the floor in the back seat, I would have had to get out and walk...

*Not to minimize the experience of the Vietnamese who fled their homeland in true peril of their lives.

**To be fair, he didn’t annoy me any more than I annoyed him. While I was steaming about his lack of common sense, he would be stewing about my ridiculous need for caution. It was, as they say, a match made in hell, and why I am so delighted to be divorced at this time.


Anonymous David said...

could have been worse, could have hate a dog in the car with the cat lol

June 12, 2006 at 1:34 a.m.  
Anonymous Steve Dix said...

It could have been much, much worse.

I recall driving back from Ireland with Her Maj, when she moved back here.

That required driving a left-hand-drive car on UK roads, all the time arguing with her that "Priorité Adroite" doesn't apply in the UK, then on European roads, where it does.

It was confusing, to say the least.

June 12, 2006 at 6:10 a.m.  
Blogger Mr. Fabulous said...

Man, that is an epic tale not only of adventure but of tempting fate and spitting in the face of destiny.

You are a braver soul than I :)

June 12, 2006 at 8:28 a.m.  
Blogger Misty said...

Bloody hell. There was me thinking my journey through Belgium last year was bad, but that takes first prize!

June 12, 2006 at 10:22 a.m.  
Blogger The Wrath of Dawn said...

Spitting in the face of destiny...


June 12, 2006 at 12:18 p.m.  
Anonymous Kat said...

It seems that every relationship that you regret has omens... Granted, perhaps not as strong as these, but you did marry the guy. The severity of omens is directly proportionate to the badness of the thing that they're portending. (Me fail English? That's unpossible!)

June 12, 2006 at 12:20 p.m.  
Blogger TC said...

Wow! The Journey from Hell.

Hope you video taped it...oh no, of course, back then the 'video recorder' would have been bigger than the car! :D

June 12, 2006 at 4:16 p.m.  
Blogger The Wrath of Dawn said...

Or the journey TO hell, depending on your point of view.

June 12, 2006 at 4:23 p.m.  
Anonymous Ricardipus, nosy said...

Beats all hell out of my ferry stories (vomit, interminable Coyote/Roadrunner cartoons, being laughed at by French Persons(TM)).

How long did this alleged marriage last, if I may ask? Just wondering.

June 12, 2006 at 4:30 p.m.  
Blogger The Wrath of Dawn said...

Ahem! It was not alleged. And I have the lawyer's bills to show for it. ;)

Twelve very looooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooong years.

But the upside is, think of the blog-fodder!

June 12, 2006 at 4:32 p.m.  
Anonymous Dr. Craig said...

That's pretty appalling.

I had to take a two day trip across Ethiopia when I took a one-year sabbatical with MSF (Medicins sans Frontieres) with no radio other than the one to contact the local MSF office if we were attacked (we weren't, although I'm still not sure what they'd have done if we had been) and a LOUD annoying tone-deaf South African anaesthetist in the front seat singing (no, not singing, murdering) the greatest hits of Queen.

Dr C.

June 12, 2006 at 6:22 p.m.  
Blogger The Wrath of Dawn said...

Hey Dr. C.! Welcome to my humble abode.

Okay. You've got me beat. I may have been in danger of colliding with a moose, but moose traditionally are not armed. But you did have a working (theoretically) radio.

At least you didn't marry the tone-deaf South African anaesthetist. I presume.

June 12, 2006 at 7:25 p.m.  
Blogger Snuffy said...

Thats what it is to be a Canadian, right? Had so many trips just like the one you mentioned (Sans the ferry ride, which I will admit would have done me in completely), that you gave me a blast from my past. Glad the cat got constipated, cuz that would have driven me right over the top. "Raving psycho-maniac does back seat driving".

Thanks for checking me out.

June 12, 2006 at 9:05 p.m.  
Anonymous Dr. Craig said...

Certainly didn't. He had a Y-chromosome which tends to push him out of range of the "people to be married to" league.

Thankfully I know enough about disease and the wonders of amoxycillin that I'm most certainly not into an 'any port in a storm' category :).

June 13, 2006 at 3:56 a.m.  
Blogger The Wrath of Dawn said...

Snuffy - Yep. The life of a Canuck, eh? It didn't seem to do the cat any harm, though. He lived to be 11 years old.

Dr. C. - I'm averse to those of the x-chromosome persuasion myself.

... the wonders of amoxycillin... Or should that be the limits of amoxycillin?

June 13, 2006 at 10:01 a.m.  
Anonymous Kat said...

Kind of on the subject... Have you actually seen the new Omen? If so, how good is it, and how does it compare to the original?

June 13, 2006 at 12:44 p.m.  
Blogger The Wrath of Dawn said...

Nope. Not seen it. Probably won't. I'm not much into horror films these days. Can't afford to lose the 10 years off my life every time I see one!

June 13, 2006 at 3:35 p.m.  

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