Zen and the art of surfboard deliverance

Peter Jackson
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Several years ago, a choir I sang with attended a little social event in a church basement along with a visiting group from Brazil.

We had some nice tunes on tap, a bit of food and a few bottles of wine. But no one had thought to bring a corkscrew, and it’s not an implement one expects to find in a church basement.

“I have one,” chirped one of the least likely members of our alto section. She pulled it out of her purse, corks were popped and we all hit the dance floor for a Brazilian two-step.

Perhaps she was the girl scout type — prepared for anything — or perhaps she was due at a wine tasting later that evening. Whatever the case, that alto saved the day.

That is an everyday example of serendipity.

Good timing

A much grander example would be the bizarre chain of events that led to the rescue of a man, woman and baby from the roof of their submerged Ford Explorer this past weekend near Kippens.

The trio went off the road and into an icy pond Saturday morning. They managed to escape the sunken vehicle and crawl onto the roof, which was only a few inches below the surface.

A witness called police, who arrived in short order, but it was other passers-by who just happened to have the right tools for the job: a vanload of divers with wetsuits on board, and a young chap who happened to be toting a surfboard.

You can’t make this stuff up.

Many will remember a TV show called “McGyver” (whose legacy has been preserved through a running spoof on “Saturday Night Live” called “McGruber”).

In each episode, the title character finds himself in an impossible pickle, but somehow manages to wiggle out with his hide intact. He does so by using his keen wits and various unlikely objects at his disposal.

He may, for example, defuse a nuclear bomb using only nail clippers, shoe polish and three pieces of string.

That’s entertaining, sure, but what’s really fascinating is when happy endings result from an unlikely collusion of events. And it’s hard to top the instant rescue operation that materialized out of the blue at that pond Saturday.

The only thing that would have completed the picture is if the waterlogged vehicle had been a Ford Escape.

Then again, I suppose someone could have shown up with a portable winch.

“Hey, I’ve got this electric winch, but the battery’s gone dead.”

“No sweat, bud. I’ve got a wind turbine in the trunk.”

Meanwhile, the young fellow with the surfboard did not wake up that day thinking he’d use it to ferry people to shore from the middle of a pond.

Why, then, was he driving around with it?

That’s a good question — and, given the stereotype of surfboard culture, one he may never adequately answer himself.

So, unless a better explanation surfaces, I offer the following possibilities …

Top 10 reasons to have a surfboard in your car in Newfoundland in November

10. No room in the basement.

9. Half-price sale at sporting supplies store.

8. Doubles as a lean-to if lost in a snowstorm.

7. Grandfather uses it for hauling wood.

6. Sailboat wouldn’t fit.

5. Substitutes as ironing board in case motel doesn’t have one.

4. Makes a good conversation piece with hitchhikers.

3. “Parents told me, ‘Get rid of it, dude.’”

2. Snowboard was in the shop.

And the No. 1 reason to have a surfboard in your car in November: global warming.

Peter Jackson is The Telegram’s editorial page editor. Email: pjackson@thetelegram.com.

Geographic location: Brazil, Newfoundland, November10

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Recent comments

  • Winona
    November 30, 2011 - 08:30

    Top 10 list cracked me up. Thanks!