Wednesday, 1 April 2009

On vans and trains

I had a rather unnerving experience on the way to work today. As I was waiting for the light to change at the corner of Cavendish and Côte Saint-Luc road, there was a loud bang. I looked up to see that a van had run into a tree on the other side of Côte Saint-Luc road. I went over to the van and saw that the driver seemed a bit out of it, if for no other reason than he had just run into a tree and had an airbag go off in his face.

I opened the door, and was surprised by the odd smell of an exploded airbag. I tried to see if there was anything I could do. The older man seemed a bit confused and was holding his arms up. He wasn't very coherent, and I wondered if he'd had a stroke. I told him to be calm in my best "calm" voice. The van was leaking fluid, so I reached over to switch off the ignition as I had once heard somewhere that that is the thing to do. I looked around and there was a man from the City of Montreal housing department calling in the accident on his cellphone. As driver wasn't really responding to my words, I tried French and got a much clearer response. He said he'd had a "malaise". He was also concerned because he was supposed to pick up his grandkids at the building we were in front of. Not quite knowing what else to do, I moved to see if I could spot mother of said grandkids. In hindsight, I think it would have been better if I had simply stayed with him and kept myself beside him as a more constant presence, reassuring him that at worst the kids would simply be late for school. However, I do remember being very concerned that Mummy be informed when I was in the accident with Daddy and Alice. I heard the guy from the City of Montreal say that the leak was only coolant, although I think there was motor oil as well. A woman suggested that I undo his seat belt, which I did.

The police arrived quite quickly, followed by an ambulance and Côte Saint-Luc Emergency Medical Services (EMS). At some point the daughter of the man emerged from the building and was somewhat distraught at the sight of the van. By this time, the paramedics were dealing with the driver, and it was suggested to the daughter that she deal with her kids at that point. I left my name and number with a policewoman at the scene and made my way to work with a damn good excuse for being a few minutes late.

Looking back there were only a couple of things I did wrong. The first was as previously mentioned, not staying with the driver. The second was not checking or asking if there was another passenger in the van. At least, I think those are the only things I did wrong.

When I mentioned the incident at work, I was a bit startled when my Argentian co-worker said "Wasn't I so good to have stopped." Isn't that what we are supposed to do for are fellow human beings?

As I mentionned in my previous post, part of the reason I am looking forwards to the New Brunswick trip is the pleasure of taking a sleeper train there and back. In order to build anticipation, I have been researching various aspects of the train trip. From the ViaRail website, I found the menu of the trip. I won't give you the link as it wasn't very inspiring! Breakfast will be passable, but supper will be something I will bring with me. ;-)

I also discovered that the train will be made up of the new "Rennaissance" cars. Looking up these cars on the web, I was rather amused to find their origin. Apparently, they were originally designed and built to be part of the "Nightstar" train service. This would have been a nighttime counterpart to the Eurostar trains, i.e. the Channel Tunnel passenger trains. At some point during the production of the cars, the project was abandonned and the cars were stored for a number of years in various stages of completion. Eventually, ViaRail bought them at a considerable discount before revamping them for Canadian service conditions. I thought this rather ironic as the only other time I have travelled in a sleeping car was in the United Kingdom in 1990.

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