05
Dec

A flare for the unusual

Reading jerry298s story about the life-raft in the VW inspired me to write
down an incident that happened to me about 10 years ago. Like Jerry, it
took me about 5 years to see the humor in it.

About 10 years ago, I bought a used van to drive back and forth to my cottage
on weekends. It had previously been owned by a company called Canada Dredge
and Dock. This gave it some notoriety since they were at the time involved
in a big local political scandal involving rigged bidding on dredging
contracts.

One weekend at the cottage I was giving it a good cleaning out
when I discovered a red cylinder labeled Emergency Flare in one of the door
pockets. I thought Well, thats not a bad thing to have in the car. and
left it there. Sure enough, on the way home that weekend, we had a flat tire.
I should say that our cottage is in the middle of a very popular vacation
area north of Toronto, and the weekend in question was the combined Canadian
July 1st and American July 4th holiday weekend. So the entire world was
headed home on the same road.

I got out to change the tire and my
brother-in-law said, Have you got an emergency flare in the van? I told
him about the one I had found and he ran down the road a few hundred feet to
set it up. I was under the van setting up the jack when I heard a loud pop.
I looked out to see Ron running towards me yelling, Its a marine flare.

Thats right, Canada Dredge and Dock, being a largely marine based company, had
left a marine emergency flare in their truck. In case anybody doesnt know,
a marine flare is like a very powerful roman candle, shooting balls of light
hundreds of feet up in the air so that drowning sailors will be seen by passing
ships. They are NOT intended to be set off late at night on a busy highway.

The first ball had missed Rons face by about 2 inches and the force had
tipped the flare over onto the little mound that he had made to hold it in
place. Now, as each ball came shooting out, the force would spin the flare
on the little mound, so that no two went in the same direction. One of them
shot right at us and passed between us as we stood no more than 5 feet apart.
One of them shot back up the road at 3 lanes of oncoming traffic. One of them
shot up into a farmers field and started a small fire. Neither of us was
about to go back and try to pick it up. Finally after about 7 or 8 shots,
it stopped.

Amazingly, the shots that went up the highway came between platoons
of traffic so nobody was hit, nobody even went off the road. Ron went and
put out the fire, I changed the tire, and we drove to the nearest pull-off and
sat there shaking for half an hour.

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