I had just clocked out and was heading home in my trusty Maverick to new Westminister.
I had worked in Vancouver ever since we got off the boat in 1974. But 20 years later, something happened that would change me forever.
I was driving home on Main Street; I bore left on Kingsway and without warning a large, black Barracuda screamed out from a side street; everyone swerving to avoid a collision. I laid on the horn as I stomped on the brakes.
A hundred yards farther on I was stopped at the left turn light at Grandview Highway and the old black Barracuda pulled alongside me. I looked at the car to see Charlie Manson’s bad brother and his followers all glaring at me, smoke belching from the open windows. But it was what they were doing that had my attention. They were passing something from the rear of the car to the front; it was a shotgun. The driver was pointing it at me and messing with the slide trying to ‘cock’ it. That’s when I felt that strange, hot bristling sensation in my shirt collar. I have no doubt that my hair did stand on end because of the reaction from the people in the car … they were all pointing and laughing and making gestures with there hands.
My heart stopped. I could neither drive back nor forward due to the traffic.
Mercifully the lights changed and it was over. I drove a block or so and threw up through the open car door. A half hour later my wife came out onto our driveway to see why I hadn’t got out of the car.
I was bawling and she thought I had killed someone on the way home in an auto accident. But what really had happened was that I had used up a good portion of life’s allotment of tolerance for fear.
A week later at a light in Whalley the driver in front of us got out and threw at least four punches to the driver in front of him.
A fortnight later our house was up for sale.
I had given my notice in a job I had been doing for 20 years. Luckily we had a semi-remote cabin on a lake near 100 Mile House and we moved there.
What had happened in Vancouver had changed me. I wasn’t the same anymore. I often look back and wonder what if?
We never, ever regretted the move from the Lower Mainland.
Don Smithyman, Oliver