Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Canadian sniper

Quite a few years ago, on a flight out of Saint John, I found myself seated beside a buff young fellow who was a proud member of the Canadian Forces. He's just heading back to Ontario after a spell at Gagetown for sniper training.

We get to yacking, and it turns out we'd both had some colourful experiences at the University of Guelph. All of his seemed to involve excess alcohol consumption, primarily at a campus pub once known as the Roundhouse.

Buddy had a thing about alcohol consumption. I'd been in self-imposed exile in New Brunswick for a time, and inquired of my seat-mate as to the current price of a case of beer in Ontario. He didn't know the price of a case of beer, but he did know the price of a keg of beer!

My pacifist proclivities aside, I confess I found his trade quite fascinating. The idea of hitting a target the size of a dollar coin from a kilometer away has a morbid fascination. And if you can hit a dollar coin a kilometer away, a human head at a kilometer and a half, or a human torso at two kilometers, is well within the operational capabilities. That is some scary shit!

Under the circumstances, I chose not to share my own tales of target-shooting prowess. I'm actually quite a contender with the air pistol when shooting beer cans at 25 feet. Don't laugh - air pistol is an Olympic sport!

I am reminded of this story because of an item in our news today. According to Brig-Gen Mike Rouleau, our Canadian Forces advisers in Iraq found themselves in a tight spot recently, and had to "defend" themselves by deploying snipers to put down the bad guys.

Nice try Mr. Brig-Gen, but I'm pretty sure nobody anywhere would consider a Tac-50 a "defensive" weapon! Which means that Canada is well on its way to becoming actively embroiled in the latest round of Middle East butchery, which Big Steve solemnly promised us would never happen when he dispatched this latest team of advisers to Iraq on nothing more than a personal whim.

So Buddy has the better sharp-shooter story, but he agreed I had the better Roundhouse story.

One night way back, after putting in an honest eight hour shift, we got lost on the way out the parking lot.

There must have been about fifteen old and very recent friends in my '69 Chrysler Newport at the time. That's a car that even by the bloated standards of a bygone era was considered a land barge. You could easily fit five in the front seat, another five in the back, and the number you could transport in the cavernous trunk was limited only by whatever personal space issues the passengers may have harboured, and at three AM that tended to be an issue that didn't come up.

The Newport is rear-wheel drive but front-heavy, like all great American cars of the time. So as we head down the steps between Johnston Hall and the Mackinnon Building, the car kinda teeter-totters forward, and all of a sudden the driving wheels are a foot off the ground...

We're stuck!

Well, thank God for all those passengers!

We were able to physically man-handle that two and a half tons of Detroit Iron down those steps in no time at all, and off we went!

Nowadays, of course, everybody from skateboarders to mountain bikers think they own those stairs. Just remember, I owned them first, with a 1969 Chrysler Newport.

They really should put up a plaque.

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