Vivian ChuiOmineca Express
Alright, I get it. You want us to slow down, to follow the speed limit, to drive safe, especially through the construction zone.
And I guess the best way to do that was to set up minimal dividing reflectors to mark the single lane traffic in both directions on the highway.
From the weekly chats with the local RCMP and the council meetings I’ve attended in the last few weeks, I’ve gathered that speeding complaints are a regular occurrence here (though speeding is a wide-spread universal practice), with Highway 16 running through town and long stretches of stop sign-less roads by residences.
So this was what I’ve noticed as I drove home on Labour Day night after a day out in Barkerville.
It was their annual Williams Creek Sports Day and Goldfields Bakery Pie Eating Contest — which I had gleefully and creamily participated — as well as a life-size theatrical portrayal of the mythology behind the origin of Chinese Chess, complete with atmospheric live traditional Chinese music accompaniment.
Leaving Barkerville at around 6:00 p.m. for the three-hour drive home (yes, Vanderhoof is now home), I was enjoying the great Cariboo scenery of rolling hills and forests as the sun set.
As I entered and left Prince George, the rain started to pour down from the sky.
My eyes were drying up, along with the contact lenses in them (yes Mom, I know they should only be worn for no more than eight hours at at time) and the stigmatism in my eye really didn’t help with night driving, as the occasional blinding blinding headlights of cars from the opposite direction are exacerbated by the condition — especially when contrasted with the pitch-black of the surrounding forests that were so peaceful, calming, and scenic during the day.
At times I got lucky, with a car to follow in the winding highway. However, during the stretch of construction zone with minimal number of reflecting divider markers and the occasional truck with bright headlights, I experienced the “stigmatized eyes in headlights” syndrome, as I struggled to stay focussed on the road while stories of late night highway accidents cruise through my mind.
I remember a story that a former colleague recounted, where an ambulance that was driving down the highway from Nanaimo to Tofino on Vancouver Island at 2:00 a.m. had fallen off a cliff, presumably due to losing control.
And so I imagined myself losing concentration for a split moment as I saw a truck coming into a turn and meeting it at full speed.
I would careen off the road, explode into smithereens on impact, or ricochet off at a speed of v = mv/m (or something along the lines of that; I’ve forgotten my high school physics formulas) — it’s just like one of those problems you get in physics class!
But I did not run into the opposite lane, and the truck roared by.
And I guess the minimal amount of dividing reflectors did their job for me; not the idea of a law enforcement individual waiting around the corner with a radar gun, but stories and imagination, and the very real fact that I can’t see clearly.
Though the SUV that passed by me at the construction zone under the pouring rain would probably beg to differ…