Dances with Words—Nick Wolochatiuk

Think quick, really quickly: you’re driving on the 401. Your cruise control is set at a bit over 110 kph. The heater is making you feel a wee bit dozy. Your thoughts are on the special gathering that was held for your 84th birthday. Your eyes are scanning the shoulders of the highway for the last traces of autumn’s brilliant foliage. You switch your attention to the radio’s FM dial, searching for a station that is playing your kind of music. All is well.

Then, something grabs your attention. It’s a vehicle far ahead of you. It must be going a lot more slowly than you, because you’re quickly overtaking it. What to do? Obviously, switch to the passing lane and overtake it. Time speeds by in a millisecond. No, you can’t swerve into the passing lane because your mirror is screaming, “There’s already a car right beside you!”

Like a movie clip being shown at a hundred frames per second, a tiny image far ahead grabs your attention, almost becomes recognizable. Like an anti-aircraft gunner in the nose of WW II Avro Lancaster, your sharp eyes quickly make a snap decision by working together with the contents of your highly-trained mind. In unison they scream out, “It’s a truck, big truck, 18-wheeler trailer truck! Do something, do something fast or…!”


HEADS UP! – Appearances can be startling – and misleading. Photo by Nick Wolochatiuk


In far less time than it took you to read what your eyes and memory were telling you, you made an almost instantaneous identification, and a just as fast decision: “It’s a Mack truck attached to a 53’ trailer. The tow truck ahead of them is pulling them as fast as it is prudent.  It’s going just a bit more slowly than you are, so slow down, quit day-dreaming, keep your eyes on the road and on your mirrors. Turn off the radio. No more lollygagging. Just drive!”

Yes, first impressions can be deceiving.

And as Nat King Cole wrote, “Straighten up and fly right!”

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