When Life Flashes Before Your Eyes

Today was an interesting day. It was going very well, until I began the journey home.

It didn’t feel right from the beginning.

From the hotel entrance, I got into the truck and headed for Toronto’s Pearson Airport en route to Victoria, BC. I thought to myself, “Did he just slur the word luggage?”

I looked past it. I chalked it up to his accent.

I pulled out my iPad and began reading, as I always do when making the 30-minute journey from downtown Toronto to the airport. I’ve done the trip so many times, there is nothing more to see. I prefer reading, via the iPad.

The head bobbing nearly concussed me as we literally stuttered toward the Gardiner Expressway, but I overlooked it at first.

Once on the Expressway, and heading for Highway 427, I became concerned.

“Is he swerving?” I asked myself.

beer-handcuff“Actually, is he drunk?”

I asked the driver,

“Are you tired? Have you been drinking?”

He replied, “No, I’m just tired. I need a coffee.”

By the time we hit Highway 427 , I was in full-on DEFCON 5 mode. He was asleep at the wheel, and we were headed for the concrete wall.

“WAKE UP!“, I screamed.

Thankfully, someone was looking out for me. (again)

He awoke, managed to swear, and somehow avoided the wall and the car in front of us. The brakes were slammed — and for whatever reason — the car came to a complete stop in the emergency lane, unscathed.

Do you know how difficult it is to hail a cab on the side of a highway?

Do you know what it feels like to put your life in the hands of a drunk driver?

Nevertheless, I was alive. (again)

When life flashes before your eyes, one is instantly reminded of mortality, love and unconquered dreams.

As an 18 year-old, I once was ditched from a white water river raft, sucked into an underwater Grade 6 cyclone that trapped me for what felt like hours. Imagine an underwater washing machine where your body is magnetized to the rim — the lid is closed — and there is no way to get out. It eventually spit me back up to the surface, where friends took over from there, saving my life.

As a 26 year-old, a driver lost control of his car around a stretch of road in Vancouver while speeding at 80 km/h and was headed directly for the front of my trusty Saturn. With no time to think, I somehow managed to veer ever so slightly to the right. It saved three lives in the Saturn (including my own) but the entire driver-side of the trusty Saturn disappeared. The polyethylene dent-resistant plastic body panels of the trusty Saturn were no more. It was weird to see a car so naked, but it felt good to be alive. (again)

I now sit in the friendly confines of the Air Canada lounge in Toronto. Naturally, I’ve been reflecting.

Have I done everything possible to be the best human being possible? Have I conquered all of those dreams?

No, I haven’t.

But I will remedy the oversight, effective immediately.

Please, don’t drink and drive.


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'When Life Flashes Before Your Eyes' have 18 comments

  1. 05/14/2014 @ 2:54 PM Cindy

    OMG, Dan. I am so glad someone is looking out for you. So happy to hear you’re safe but very alarmed to hear that it happened. Events like that absolutely bring you back down to what is most important in life. The basics.

  2. 05/14/2014 @ 2:57 PM Dan Pontefract

    Thanks @Cindy … where would the ‘goats’ be without their crazy goat herder? Sobering, pun intended. Thanks for your kind words.

  3. 05/14/2014 @ 3:01 PM Angela Alini

    Holy ####!!!

    Glad you’re ok!!!!
    Events like that really do put everything in perspective.
    Safe travels to your herd.

    Ang.

  4. 05/14/2014 @ 3:05 PM Dan Pontefract

    Thanks sista @Ang … the Scotch in the lounge is helping. (I’m not flying the plane, so all good)

  5. 05/14/2014 @ 3:38 PM Denise

    OMG….I just read this -yes, READ THIS – and haven’t yet talked to you because you’re now en route back to Vic in the air (hopefully in a better state). What a horrifying experience and luckily you are coming back here. We’ll debrief later…xo

  6. 05/14/2014 @ 4:00 PM Jon Husband

    Oy !

    Glad you’re still here.

    I’m sure you do it every night you’re home, but when you kiss your kids and Denise give them and yourself an extra squeeze.

  7. 05/14/2014 @ 4:12 PM Denise D.

    Very thankful that the pearly gates weren’t open to receive you yet again! That gorgeous wife of yours and your three precious young ones need and want you with them for a long, long time. Glad you’re safe! Especially glad your guardian angel was in the cab with you!

  8. 05/14/2014 @ 4:34 PM Rich Lamarche

    WOW! That’s not cool! So blessd to know your safe and alright! Get home safe!! God bless Dan and he sure did today for all!

  9. 05/14/2014 @ 4:48 PM Janet Gregory

    OMG Dan. That was close. Been in a similar situation in Athens speeding along at 140km/h but the wee ones were in the car with me. Jean kept prodding the driver and we didn’t have the sense to get out. 4:30am in Greece after a 14 hour flight did not seem like a good time to get another cab. Should have bailed. Thank god you did. Hug Denise and the goats tightly when you get home.

  10. 05/14/2014 @ 7:48 PM Nancy Miller

    Happy to know you are safe, Dan! Thankfully you weren’t so engrossed in your iPad that you didn’t notice the dude was asleep..
    Please don’t drink and drive, don’t medicate and drive, and don’t be exhausted and think your reflexes are sufficient for today’s driving conditions. We all need to be reminded to focus on the task at hand. No I can’t imagine trying to hail a cab on the side of a highway in Toronto – I have tried (and failed) in Atlanta, but that’s another story to be shared, along with a similar “under water” life flashing before your eyes experience.

  11. 05/14/2014 @ 9:26 PM Mira Gataric

    Oh Dan, I read your story and can’t even visualize what happened. I’m so happy that you are safe and on the way to your happy family. You are very special person and a great friend to many people and I’m sure the universe will save you for many, many years. Say Hi to Denise and all the best to your family. Hope you never have similar experience with drivers.

  12. 05/15/2014 @ 3:55 AM Jennifer Daly-Cyr

    Glad you are d
    Safe and sound Dan. Thanks for sharing your terrifying experience. It makes us all ‘wake up’.

  13. 05/15/2014 @ 12:42 PM Dan Pontefract

    Thanks everyone for such lovely and concerning comments. I never thought of myself as a ‘cheat’ but in this case (and a few others I’ve had) I guess I can say that I like being able to cheat on something.

    Death, in this case.

  14. 05/16/2014 @ 6:30 AM Sean Masterman

    Dan–Thanks for sharing. The mere fact that your reaction to surviving the selfish act of that driver was to reflect on everything you appreciate in your life…tells me that you already do appreciate it all. I am sure everyone who read your story reflected on their own similar tale of dodging a proverbial bullet…good reminder of how resilient we all are to take those events in stride and remind ourselves how lucky we truly are–not just to survive but to thrive. Thanks again! Here’s to an “un”-eventful weekend for you!

  15. 06/03/2014 @ 8:55 AM Tony

    I hope you reported the driver.

  16. 06/03/2014 @ 5:06 PM Ray

    You should have followed your first instinct and not gotten into to what I suppose you meant was a minivan cab.
    Not to make light of your incident and I am certainly glad you came out if that scare in one pieace but myself I always follow my instinct and if a situation does not look right I pass and take another cab. You don’t mention what happened after that or if you reported the driver. I wonder if he had the nerve to expect you to pay for that hell ride. With all due respect to you in the future please provide more information so one gets a clear picture of what happened.

  17. 06/03/2014 @ 5:30 PM Donald

    Sounds like a bogus story to me.

  18. 06/04/2014 @ 1:16 PM Dan Pontefract

    @Sean – thanks for dropping by. Yes, it *was* uneventful.

    @Tony/@Ray – yes, I reported the driver and yes, the police came by to quiz me.

    @Donald, with all due respect, I’d prefer you not popping by this site again in the future, let alone leaving a comment. You question my integrity? Nice one. I question your humanity.


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Dan Pontefract | dp at danpontefract dot com