Letters: The good, the bad and the ugly

Road closure due to accident brings out the best and worst in people

A funny thing happened to me on the way home last week….the road to Sooke was shut down, again.  Riding the #61 home from work, we came to a stop around 4:15 p.m. about 1.5 km before 17 Mile Pub.  Word had it there was a bad accident by the Shell Station and the road may not open till 10 p.m. Having acquired some recent health challenges making it difficult to walk much, it seemed I had no choice but to disembark the bus that was turning around to head back to Langford, and start a walkin’. Didn’t have my meds, a change of clothes, etc… I figured better to take my chances heading home, than spending the night in Victoria.

After stopping quickly at the 17 Mile for some “fuel” to keep walking, a car pulled up along side and the driver offered me a ride. The fellow noticed my limping, and said I could slow-ride along as far as he could go.  We introduced each other and chatted a bit about this and that and about past times when the road closed. He said it was part of the price you pay to live out here. That’s why it’s not so crowded, because a lot of people won’t put up with the commute and delays. We both agreed it was a price we were willing to pay to live in such a beautiful area and hope the road never gets too big or easy.

When the traffic stopped again, he said I might as well keep walking and if he got going he would pick me up again. He was a good guy and I thank you sir. I walked for awhile, starting to get pretty sore, and slowing down.  Then I came to the accident. It was ugly. Not sure how anyone lived through it but apparently all did, thank goodness. As I walked past the carnage, the flashing lights and milling people, the burnt smell of tragedy that lingered, I noticed someone holding a cardboard sign at the end of a driveway.  It said something about $5 and a “route around.” For some reason it took a second to sink in… for $5 vehicles could get around the wrecked cars about 75 feet away by using a private road through a property.

As I kept walking another young man walking along was announcing the $5 detour to drivers of waiting vehicles.  Some moved forward to pay the $5 detour.  I jokingly told drivers I would give them $5 if they turned around and gave me a ride to my waiting truck in Sooke.  I wasn’t joking that much. A truck eventually came along and I stuck out my thumb, desperate for a ride. So did the other young man and the driver picked us both up. As we drove into Sooke the $5 detour was mentioned and the driver had the same instinct reaction that I did. He was nice guy, grew up in Port Renfrew, dropped me off at my truck. I know he was the kind of guy that if I offered him $5 for helping me out, he would have been offended. I just said thanks.

I hope I can return the favour one day, or at least pay it forward.

When I finally got home, we had guests…friends, also stranded by the accident, waiting it out at our place. We shared dinner, and when I told everyone about the $5 detour they all had the same reaction as I did and the guy who picked me up.

I guess tragedy and delay can bring out a lot of different reactions… for many a common bond and unquestioning helpfulness to each other, and for others, an opportunity. Not judging, just saying.

Tom Eberhardt

Sooke