If you haven’t heard already, then you might want to sit down before you read this…
Burt Reynolds is no longer with us.
Before you run screaming from the room so you can go find your old VHS copy of Smokey and the Bandit to watch repetitively for the next 24 hours as you grieve the fine actor’s death, let me remind you that Burt Reynolds is also the name you chose for our beloved Volkswagen Rabbit, and it is the car version that has perished, not the man (to the best of my knowledge the man is still kickin’ it). While it will surely be a sad day when news comes of Burt Reynolds (the man)’s passing, today we struggle to find words to describe the unthinkable loss we feel without Burt Reynolds (the car) parked safely in the driveway.
What could have possibly happened to this strong, resilient car that over 9 months carried us swiftly and safely through 48 states, 10 provinces and 3 territories you wonder? Well, to put it simply, we were just in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Here’s how it all went down.
I needed to be in Oakville Sunday night so that I could visit with my best friend and her family for an early Christmas celebration, but I was in Toronto babysitting my niece all day, and would have had to pay for a cab if Luke had not offered to drive all the way into the city to pick me up and take me back to Oakville. Potted rosemary plant in hand, I climbed into the passenger seat as Luke piled my things in the trunk and we set off for Oakville on the Gardiner Expressway.
There was a steady flow of traffic on the Gardiner westbound, which might be rare in most cities on a Sunday night, but not in Toronto. We were traveling at the speed limit in the “slow lane” closest to where the collector lanes start to merge into the express lanes, just west of Kipling. Then suddenly from what seemed like out of nowhere, a car was positioned right in front of us in our lane, but strangely, they were facing completely sideways. We could clearly see the driver as we approached her because her side window was straight on to us. We can’t imagine how this person managed to maneuver their car into this position – she was just there, as if waiting for a left turn signal at an intersection.
I think I uttered the words “whoa what is…” and then couldn’t finish my thought before BAM!!! Luke’s quick reaction allowed him to avoid hitting her straight on, but we still managed to slam into her back end sending her spinning backwards into the express lanes behind us. The impact was severe enough to deploy our airbags (but not hers). Luckily we didn’t spin out. Instead we landed miraculously just to the right of us in the dead zone right before the collectors and expressway merge together. I looked down and saw that I was still holding the rosemary plant that was in my lap and it looked relatively unharmed – as were we both, though it was clear our heavy belongings had pitched forward and hit our seats from behind. We sat there for about 6 or 7 minutes unable to exit the car because there were lanes of traffic whizzing by on either side of us. The smoke from the airbags was both painful to breath and scary, as it made it seem like the car might be on fire, but we had to sit there waiting – hoping the worst was over.
The tow trucks were the first on the scene, and the driver was able to park in a way that allowed him to get out and come see if we were okay. He told us the police and fire trucks were on their way, and to hang tight in the car until we were able to safely exit. Soon afterward a police officer had arrived and moments later there was a fireman leaning in to see if we needed any physical help. After asking us if we were wearing our seat belts, to which we proudly stated “of course!!!” he seemed to disappear – no doubt to go check on the other driver. The tow truck drivers and police set up their vehicles so that we could safely exit the car and climb into the tow truck. Soon we were whisked off to a local mall parking lot to fill out accident reports.
And so goes the story of how Burt made his exit from our lives and from the alexandluke escapades. He carried us safely and swiftly around North America for 9 long months. He was our home away from home, he was an icebreaker when we met strangers, he proudly displayed all of our travel badges, he kept us safe and comfortable, he accompanied us to some of the most wonderful corners of this continent. From the rocky salt flats of Utah to the very southern tip of the Florida Keys, from dodgy motel parking lots to colourful tail-gaiting parties, Burt was with us almost every step of the way and we will always remember him fondly.
What we cannot get over is that we traveled 73000 kilometers in that car this year and drove in every kind of condition on every variety of road you can think of, and yet not a single scratch, dent or even traffic ticket occurred until we were just 10 minutes from our homes. Go figure. And the weirdest part of all? The other driver lives about 200 meters away from Luke on the very same street!
We sure are glad that we were driving in a Volkswagen when this terrible accident took place. Though we are stiff and sore today, we truly believe we could have made out a lot worse if it wasn’t for the engineering of his VW Rabbit. We don’t take this lightly – we really do love Volkswagen and hope to find ourselves behind the wheel of a VW again someday.
So where the story goes from here is anyone’s guess. I suppose you should just stay tuned as always! We would like to thank you for all of the kind messages of love and support. We appreciate every last one of you more than you know!
Stay safe and happy holidays!