by Karen Seaboyer

What’s not to love about a big, bright, yellow, happy thing? Sunshine, lemonade, happy faces, daffodils, rubber duckies, buttered corn on the cob, Mr. Koolaid; it’s always cheerful and fun.

Well, apart from that time we broke down in the middle of the Island Highway…


It was the day before Christmas Eve. My mind was like oatmeal from our wildly frantic work season. I was heading to northern Vancouver Island from the mainland, usually a six-hour trip. Since a boat had crashed into the ferry dock the day before, everything was running late, water-wise. Once on the island, I decided to take the newer, faster highway, instead of the scenic ocean route I usually traveled, with the grand idea of making up for lost time.

After blasting through rush hour port city traffic, we cruised for a short while. But then suddenly, I no longer felt the natural sensation of moving faster when stepping on the gas pedal. There’s usually a direct and positive correlation. Yep, we were definitely slowing down. And I was flooring it. And then the little red lights came on. Yikes!

But look – there’s an exit! Let’s just coast over yonder… until we slow down… to a complete stop…on the gravel…at the side of the road… We… have… stopped.

It was getting dark.

Well, I’ll just phone BCAA for help. Oh, look, my phone battery died during the chaos of the last week. (NB: This is when batteries lasted for two weeks). But how cool is this? The reserve allows me to make an emergency call!

I sheepishly called 911, because I was more puzzled than scared, and it bugs me when people misuse emergency lines. I spoke quickly, so as to not waste any more time than necessary. “Hi, my car broke down on the side of the highway and my phone’s almost dead, but I’m not freaking out,” I rattled off. “Can you please call BCAA for me?”

The Wait. After staring at the motor for five minutes, expecting an obvious hazard to show itself, I decided to cherish the silence and peace that had eluded me for months. I sat inside, bundled up for warmth, put my head back and patiently waited, making a point not to gaze at the odd passing car or they’d think I was pleading for help.

jackson-wreath-front-low-no-plateDidn’t matter. Those kindhearted island souls weren’t going to leave a Bug-driving mistress in distress. The first couple pulled over and said, “Do you want to use our phone?” So I called my family, since I could only call 911 earlier. Someone else rapped on the window, checking in on the situation and left a supply of reading material… the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ Watchtower. Other drivers slowed down, got the thumbs up and carried on.

Within 20 minutes a huge flat deck truck arrived. The driver hopped out and said, “The good news is you’re the lone female on the highway, so I picked you up first. The bad news is, I’ve got the only tow truck in town and you’re coming on two more calls with me!”

So we went to the seniors’ centre and helped a lady who’d locked her keys in the car. Then cruised down a side road and helped a man move his konked-out truck. We looked like some sort of automotive parade of lights… Two people in the cab, flashing amber lights, pulling a little Beetle looking like it’s perched onstage, pulling a truck out of a driveway. It got a bit tricky where the path curved…

Almost three hours later, we arrived at the nearest VW service centre, not even knowing what it was called or if it was open. Big shout out to Sunwest Auto in Courtenay, BC! Not only were the staff clearing out for the holidays as we pulled up, but they all came back inside to help us park Jackson the Wonderbug, marvelled over the clean motor, and helped unpack all my luggage and Christmas gifts. (This sleigh was loaded.)

But THEN, I had to call my Mom 30 minutes north, to share our arrival news and provide a pick-up location. I told the Sunwest manager that I’d drag all my stuff to a coffee shop so that he could go home. Recognizing that it would be ridiculous to do that, if not impossible, he insisted I stay and wait for Mom to arrive. And she did, complete with a big box of her world famous butter tarts for Mr. Sunwest.

At last, we could all go home for the holidays. And eat butter tarts.cmon-get-happy

After Christmas, I picked up Jackson on the way back to Vancouver. Good as new.


So go ahead and click the partridges. I know you want to hear that song. It’s been going through your head since you started reading, right?

Go on, get happy. 🙂