.: Ski XCOttawa.ca :: Skiing in Ottawa and Gatineau Park

Winter Driving
By:  Karl Saidla   (2007/03/07)


Peter was feeling the dampness and cold that characterizes an Ottawa winter more strongly than he had in a very long time. It had actually been awhile since he had misjudged how much clothing to wear while skating on the Rideau Canal, but today he had definitely placed too much weight on the side of fashion, and not enough on the side of common sense. For once it had appeared sunny and warm out, and he had figured that he would not need his Leafs toque, which he secretly adored, but that he knew was not particularly stylish, or his hockey gloves that were definitely the coolest thing to wear if hand warmth was required.

He longed for his Leafs hat and his Cooper gloves as he glided past 5th avenue, all the while trying to shorten his neck like a turtle in order to bury his face further into the neck of his stain-washed jean jacket. He was pleased with the way his mullet kept the back of his neck warm, at least. Maybe if he could grab his smokes out of his back pocket, that would warm him up. But no, his fingers were already as frozen as they could be, and jammed under his armpits.

“Two more minutes”, he told himself, and he would finally be at his car. He imagined the warm air flowing from the vents of his 1982 Chevy Malibu. Too bad he still hadn’t been able to scrape together enough money to properly fix his passenger side window. The duct tape certainly worked, but he suspected that a proper window would probably keep him warmer. Come to think of it, it might be safer if he could see out that side of the car as well.

By the time he finally reached the staircase at Clegg street, he was so frozen he couldn’t be bothered to sit down and untie his skates with frozen fingers in the howling wind. “I’ll just head’er straight for my Chevy, and put my velcroes on when I can finally feel my friggin fingers”.

It was cold enough that the torn green vinyl on the seats was crisp and hard as he somewhat frantically coaxed the engine along from what was at first a sputtering coughing noise, to the eventual harmonious and heart-warming roar of a Chevy with no tail-pipe. Between inhalations of his first smoke since before he started skating, all the while keeping his free hand warm in his armpit, Peter began to contemplate his next move. He glanced down to his feet, still in his skates and resting on the pedals.

A thought was creeping into mind. At first, it was only a speculative kind of fantasy. But the more he thought about it, the more it made perfectly reasonable sense. There was no reason to think that the skates would not work to push the pedals. He ventured to press the brake pedal lightly with one of his CCM Super Tacks. It worked, he thought. Of course it worked, come to think of it. Why wouldn’t it? For sure, the blades were narrow, but they actually stuck quite well to the rubber on top of the pedals. Was there any law against it, he pondered? He thought back to driving school some 10 years earlier. No, he was sure. He had never explicitly been warned not to drive with hockey skates on.

After all, he thought, in five minutes I’ll be home watching wrestling. He eased the car onto Clegg street and he was on his way. No problem at all. Peter was actually feeling a tinge of pride. He could do this all the time, he thought. No more frozen fingers! Peter was following what he was sure was some yuppie in a grey Volkswagen Passat who was driving like he was looking for an address he couldn’t find. Peter’s patience, which, by the way, was close to non-existent, was being given a fairly serious test. Come, on you pompous jerk, Peter cursed aloud. Don’t you have some kind of homing device in that geeky car of yours so that you never get lost?

The Passat slowed once again. Peter put his skate blade gently on the brake. This time, however, his skate blade was right at the edge of the pedal. As he craned his neck to catch a glimpse of the yuppie, it slipped ever so gently off the brake pedal and unfortunately, landed square in the middle of the accelerator. The Chevy roared to life energetically, if only for a split second. Peter watched helplessly as the solid steel bumper of his car showed its effectiveness impressively against the new-fangled plastic of the Passat. The result was predictable. The Passat bumper shattered in such spectacular fashion that one might have thought it was the result of a small but powerful explosive device.

Stunned, Peter did what was natural and straightened out his mullet before nudging open the door to greet the yuppie. As he swung his feet out of the car he caught a glimpse of the yuppie’s jaw dropping like a lead balloon. Peter placed his skates on the icy pavement calmly. He would tell the yuppie that he shouldn’t have been driving his car so slowly, and that he shouldn’t have stopped so suddenly, what with the street being like a skating rink and all. “I’ll show him just how slippery it really is by skating over to talk to this jerk”, Peter said to himself. With that, he hopped to his feet like Guy Lafleur stepping out of the penalty box, and glided confidently away.

Interesting Reading. . .
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