Quinte, On. real estate agent: Zen and the Art of Tow Truck Driving

Zen and the Art of Tow Truck Driving

Buddhists have a great way of looking at hurdles that have presented themselves in their lives. They are thankful for them because these hurdles give them an opportunity to practice their patience. In that spirit, I'm very thankful for the huge opportunity I had on Sunday to practice my patience. If I become the sort of person who seems to handle events with equanimity, experiences such as these will have gone a long way to making it so.

I was driving to show a property on the beautiful shores of Rice Lake, and let me tell you, it's much more fun in the summer. The cottage is on one of those little private roads that branches off another private road, pretty much in the middle of nowhere.

I did see the sign at the intersection "Summer Maintenance Only. Use at Own Risk." I heeded the warning on the sign and proceeded to use the road at my own risk.

I spend quite a bit of time in my car, and I trust it implicitly. It's an old warhorse, and we've been through a few adventures together, so I have a lot of confidence that we will be alright in just about any circumstance. We've had some hairy moments, but I have always come out alright.


The road didn't look too bad, it hadn't been maintained, no one had salted it or spread sand around, but the slope looked gentle enough, so I didn't really worry too much.

For about 10 seconds.

Until I rounded the corner....

Yes, that's my car there.


I did manage to get to the cottage, and I did manage to view it, and after about 20 minutes I did manage to turn my car around in what was probably a 17 point turn.

Where I had trouble though was getting back up the hill. Underneath the little sprinkling of snow was sheer ice. Thrice I almost made it to the top, only to have my tires spinning about 10 yards from the crest. I backed down the hill slowly again to take another run at it. The third time backing down wasn't very good, my brakes were useless and I skidded into the ditch.

It only took about 15 seconds of tire spinning to know that I needed a tow truck. My car was completely hung up.

My cell phone was useless, there was absolutely no reception. Brilliant. It's fifteen degrees below zero, I'm at the bottom of an icy hill, and as usual, I'm hardly dressed for the outdoors (I'm one of those idiots who complains about the cold all winter but never dresses accordingly). It was mid afternoon to boot, the sun wasn't going to be around much longer either.

 After scrambling up the hill and walking for a little, I managed to call a tow truck. They had no idea where I was since the road wasn't on any maps, nor could it be found on Mapquest. After making sure they knew where I was, (although I wasn't terribly sure myself) I headed back to the car and waited, and waited, and waited.

The waiting really wasn't all that bad, I kept my mind very active debating the merits of death by carbon monoxide asphyxiation and death through hypothermia. From what I understand, they both have some pretty good points, and are both preferable to being burned alive at a stake, although at the time I was craving a bit of the warmth that being burned alive at a stake could provide. Just a tad though.

It took about an hour and a half, but the good people at Brown's towing in Port Hope managed to find me. I will be forever thankful to them, and although people often complain about the costs of towing, it was worth every penny.

It was a pretty difficult job for the driver, first he had to back down the icy hill, which had become much more treacherous as it got darker and colder, and then he had to winch my car out, which was not easy since the tow truck kept slipping back. The first run up the hill was not a success, and the truck and my car slid down the hill in tandem.

Now I was a little worried about being crushed between a tree and a tow truck. The driver was very good and we were lucky. We slid to a standstill near the bottom of the hill where we uncoupled the vehicles, backed up a bit and he coupled them together in a more secure fashion which he had been unable to do half way up the hill.

He took a flying start, built up a good head of steam and we made our way to the top with a little bit of slipping and sliding. I must say, I felt very relieved when we reached the top, it was a pretty nervy drive. The driver seemed to be enjoying himself though.

I am always thankful for men like the tow truck driver. The working guys who know what they are doing and who arrive and fix problems for us. They are so confident and cheerful, and will come out on freezing cold nights when the rest of us would rather be curled up at home. These are the unsung heroes who make it possible to survive the winters in Canada. Next time you are grumbling about the cost of a tow, remember that these guys are out there on the coldest nights rescuing fools like me, and that they probably don't get paid enough for those jobs.

Fortunately my car was undamaged so I could drive it back home without any further hassles or delays. I jumped into the shower and had one of the nicest hot showers in recent memory. Now that I'm safe and sound I'm thankful that I had that opportunity to practice my patience. I'm hoping that my next opportunities come when the weather is much warmer though.

Thank you very much Brian at Brown's Towing in Port Hope Ontario. You got me out of a sticky situation. I will never question the cost of a tow again.

Comment balloon 15 commentsMalcolm Johnston • January 17 2012 12:28PM


Wow....that was an adventure!   Kudos to the tow truck driver...and about that Buddhist message...hmmm...thinking about that, too.

Posted by Li Read, Caring expertise...knowledge for you! (Sea to Sky Premier Properties (Salt Spring)) over 7 years ago

That was quite an excursion and a great job Brian did in helping you out. Tow truck services are worth every penny!

Posted by go to RealEstateFaster.com & get 20 Listing Appointments per month (Real Estate Faster) over 7 years ago

Malcolm, Thanks for sharing a day in your life.  We sometimes are put in positions and have to depend on others to help us find the way.  Hopefully we try to always seek the best and most qualified individuals.

Posted by Vince Chinell, CPI (VICO Home Inspection) over 7 years ago


Those roads around lakes can be treacherous. I had the same problem a few years ago in January on a road around Clear Lake , and later around Stoney Lake in the Kawarthas.


Posted by Brian Madigan, LL.B., Broker (RE/MAX West Realty Inc., Brokerage (Toronto)) over 7 years ago

Malcolm - Brrrrrrrr. a chilling tale to be sure ..... cellphones are great but only in areas where you can get service ..... we have several 'dead' spots around here so I really appreciate the difficulty you may have been in

Posted by Kathy Clulow, Trusted For Experience - Respected For Results (RE/MAX All-Stars Realty Inc. Brokerage) over 7 years ago


         Great story you have talent as a writer as well, maybe that chilly air gave you writing skills as well. Thanks to the tow truck driver having you back safe and sound!

Posted by Yolanda Cordova-Gilbert over 7 years ago

Malcolm, it proves that showing a property is not as easy as it looks, I hope you got the listing or impressed someone!


Posted by Ty Lacroix (Envelope Real Estate Brokerage Inc) over 7 years ago

that is quite the story but I enjoyed it immensely!! So funny... and so like most of us to do something like that.. or at least like me.. :) .... i'm cold now though after reading that!! and very glad I don't live in an area that has that much snow!

Posted by Sheila Newton Team Anderson & Greenville SC, Selling the Upstate since 1989 (Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices - C. Dan Joyner) over 7 years ago


I do not leave my home without road side protection. The thought of being stuck out in the boonies is not my idea of fun. I have a client that vehicle would not start and we tried to start it with some jumper cables but it just would not turn over. The client did not have road side assistance and thankfully I did and the company came out to help tow the vehicle to the nearest repair location. It is worth the $37.50 a year. Glad that you are OK, and that your vehicle is safe.

Posted by Lorraine or Loretta Kratz, Certified Negotiation Consultants (Crescent Moon Realty, Inc. & Land N Sea Auctions.) over 7 years ago

Yikes. That was quite an excursion. Obviously there were a lot of lessons learned. Sorry to say that I am very glad it was you and not me.

Posted by Ellie McIntire, Luxury service in Howard County & Catonsville (Ellicott City Clarksville Howard County Maryland Real Estate) over 7 years ago

Malcolm--First, I am happy that this post had a happy ending and that you lived to tell the story.  Second, did you learn anything?  Lessons learned should be your next post.  Forgive me for sounding like your mother, manager or teacher, but I can't help it.  I am a friend, too, and I don't want to learn of your demise due to  . . .

Posted by Mary Yonkers, Erie/PA Real Estate Instructor (Alan Kells School of Real Estate/Howard Hanna Real Estate) over 7 years ago

You should have stopped by for glass of wine on my front porch.  At least the temp was 38.

Posted by Mary Yonkers, Erie/PA Real Estate Instructor (Alan Kells School of Real Estate/Howard Hanna Real Estate) over 7 years ago

Neither rain, nor sleet, nor slippery snowy roads will keep a determined real agent from his job.  I'm glad I experienced your story in the comfort of my warm and cozy home...

Posted by Norma Toering Broker for Palos Verdes and Beach Cities, Palos Verdes Luxury Homes in L.A. (Charlemagne International Properties) over 7 years ago

Malcolm, as I read this I could easily imagine this being me... glad to see that nothing, save perhaps pride, was hurt today.

Posted by Chris Smith, South Simcoe, Caledon, King, Orangeville Real Esta (Re/Max Chay Realty Inc., Brokerage) over 7 years ago

Hi Malcolm,

So glad that you were finally rescued and made it up the hill.  While I was reading, it sounded exactly my brother's cottage road at Moose Lake, near Haliburton; I don't have an AWD so I tend to not go there in the winter unless it's with him in his 4x4.

On another note, wow, you work over a wide area!


Posted by Jo-Anne Smith over 7 years ago