August 19, 2006

The World of Dafties

In the movie American Pie (or maybe it was Road Trip) one of the characters, possibly Stifler, claimed that cheating on your partner doesn't count if it takes place in a different zipcode. This is exactly the way I feel about road traffic accidents. Every time I phone up for an insurance quote I proudly exclaim, without a hint of guilt or irony, that I have never been involved in a car accident. If they were to delve deeper, and thank fuck they don't, what they'd find out I really meant is that I've never crashed in this country, in a car that belongs to me or crashed whilst the bearer of an EU driving license.
I do, however, know what it feels like to be at the wheel (or handlebars) during collision with another vehicle. Indeed, although I've never technically crashed, I also know what if feels like to lose control at high speed and what the consequences of such a high speed loss of control feels like.
On this basis, I felt qualified to sympathize with my new colleague Terry the other day.
Terry looks, smells and sound like a 15-year-old Yorkshire Terrier but I didn't know this the first time I saw him because at that moment he was driving the above pictured truck the wrong way down a residential street in a sleepy Home Counties village in green and pleasant England.
Driving any lorry the wrong way down a public carriageway is dangerous enough but to appreciate the hazards involved with these particular bastards, take a look at the picture and see if you can spot the Land Rover.
Terry had arrived at the MOD depot just ahead of me to help shift a bunch of unspecified Army vehicles just back from action in the Gulf. We stopped ahead of the depot entrance to give Terry plenty of space to pull out but nowhere near enough space. He exited the yard well in excess of 30mph, veered wildly to the left, ripped a gaping hole down two doors and the front nearside wing of a ford Fiesta driven by a little old lady in a flowery dress then slammed into a Renault Clio occupied by a pretty young girl also wearing a flowery dress.
Terry eventually stopped in a flower bed, climbed down from the cab and limped over to retrieve the old woman's wing mirror from the flower bed. Without uttering a word, he handed it back to her along with a company business card displaying our insurance details then hobbled back in and fucked off leaving two generations of the fairer sex quivering on a Berkshire roadside along with a Ghurka Corporal screaming blue murder after him.
I flatly refused to drive one of the brutes so my boss said: "Fine. I'll take one and you follow me in the car," which is what I did.
We caught up with Terry at a service station and went over to introduce ourselves and take the piss out of him for trashing the customer's vehicle.
Not a scratch.
One Ford Fiesta and one Renault Clio written off and not a scratch on Her Majesty's paintwork.
Almost makes you proud of British engineering although it's pretty likely that the engine was German, the chassis Polish, the suspension Japanese, the body work Italian and the failed breaks Spanish.
"Terry," says I,: "Had you ever driven anything like this before?"
"Ave I fook, mate."
"Weren't you shitting yourself man?"
"Naw lad. I ain't shat meself since some fookin' Arab shot me in the foot in Yemen in 1962."
"So the truck had a better time in the desert than you did mate."
And I was worried that driving trucks would be boring.
As a family friend said to me the other day: "Welcome to the World of Dafties."