Monday, February 28, 2011

At Least We're not the Only Ones.

Wednesday February 16th
I worked for CBC in Halifax today, so Dave and I carpooled into the city. It was dusk when we got home, and as we crested the hill and our driveway came into sight, we noticed the oil truck.

The cab of the truck was halfway out of our driveway, so at first we assumed he was leaving. Dave slowed the car and pulled over to the side of the road to give him room. But the truck didn't move.

Me (tentatively): "Do you think he's stuck?"

Dave: "No. He can't be stuck. (pause) Can he?"

Something certainly didn't seem right. The truck was definitely lilting to the left, and it still wasn't moving. We looked more closely and saw snow, lots of it, pressed into the undercarriage of the truck. Yes. The Irving Oil truck was definitely stuck.

Dave got out of the car and approached the driver, who, despite his predicament, was cheerful and friendly. He said he was backing into our driveway about 20 minutes earlier when it happened. He hit the icy hump at the foot of our driveway (a hump created by the plow's middle of the night passes, and our too-busy/lazy-to-shovel lifestyle). When he hit the hump, his liquid load shifted with a lurch, forcing the tires to jump the edge of our narrow driveway and into the ditch.

A tow-truck was on its way. We offered the driver a chance to come inside and warm up, but he said he preferred to wait in the truck... besides, the hose on the truck was long enough that he figured he could fill our oil tank from where he was, which he did.

The driver's one big concern was for the two other clients whose tanks he was supposed to fill. One was a private home up the road in Kennetcook. They'd been without oil all day, and the temperature was hovering at something like fifteen below zero. The homeowners called the driver several times to see where he was, and he had to deliver the bad news-- he was delayed.

His other client was a business which repairs large trucks. They too had been without oil all day, and weren't very happy about the situation. Dave and I felt a little sheepish. We had plenty of oil, about a quarter of a tank. We'd just called for a delivery because we figured better safe than sorry. We likely could have gone several more weeks without oil though.

Dusk turned to dark before the tow truck finally arrived. It was a huge truck (about the same size as the oil truck) with a heavy duty winch on the back. At some point, the oil truck driver whispered to Dave that they're supposed to drain the oil from the truck before having it towed. This wasn't done, and I had visions of the truck tipping on its side, spilling thick black diesel onto the bright, white snow. Thankfully, the truck was tugged free from the rutted ditch without incident--well, almost without incident.

With the oil truck out of the ditch and now blocking the entire width of the road, the driver jumped out suddenly and ran to the left side of the truck. I followed. I noticed a four foot long metal box dangling from the bottom of the truck onto the snowy road. It turns out it was a tool box normally attached to a metal frame on the lower left hand side of the truck. But with so much snow shoved up against the bottom of the truck as it was dragged out of the ditch, the frame twisted and the box fell off. Now, the oil truck driver, and the tow truck driver were both sizing it up, trying to figure out how to re-attach it so they could finish work and go home.

Eventually, they decided to use a few bungee cords to wrangle the box into place. The driver shrugged and hoped the box would stay put while he finished his deliveries. Having it bounce off while driving 100 kms/hour on the highway was not an experience he was looking forward to.

At least he can breathe easily knowing that we shouldn't need oil again until next fall.

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