PRO TIP: If you can’t be bothered to read 1,000’s of words right now, you can watch the video a few paragraphs below or listen to the podcast episode right here. 🙂
*This is the story of how I got a new web design client by rolling my car into a ditch. Yes, seriously.*
October 13, 2020. Calabogie, Canada.
I was driving home from my parents place after an awesome long weekend spent with the whole family. A weekend of food, beer, laughter and super car track driving.
It had rained a bit the night before, so the road was a tad wet. Not even enough to make a puddle.
I’m cruising along at around 88km in an 80km zone, listening to my favorite hockey podcast while the cruise control keeps me moving forward.
As I come to a slight left bend in the road, I tap the brakes and turn my steering wheel ever so slightly to the left.
It took me about 0.7 seconds to realize something was wrong.
My car began to drift sideways.
I resisted the urge to panic.
If I cranked the wheel too quickly to the right in a desperate attempt to course-correct, I would almost certainly careen off the right side of the road into a wall of trees at about 70km.
I pumped the brakes while ever so slightly directing my wheels to the right, craving the sweet feeling of control I had just a few seconds ago.
It was no use. My car was sliding out of control.
It was now completely perpendicular to the road, my windshield filled with a flurry of trees whizzing by.
This is the point that I knew I was going over, and there was nothing left to do but instinctively raise my arms to protect my head from the ensuing impact.
I had heard stories about what it’s like to roll a car. I have a couple of friends who have had the unfortunate experience. Thankfully, they lived to tell the tale.
These stories briefly flashed in my mind as I braced for impact. But nothing they said could have prepared me for what happened next.
The peaceful, almost tranquil sideways glide of the car was rudely interrupted by the crunching sound of steel and the explosion of soil.
The next 3-4 seconds was a whirlwind of confusion.
And just like that, it was over. I find myself hanging upside down, my seat belt dutifully keeping me from plunging onto the broken glass below me.
It’s amazing how quickly our brains adapt to a sudden change of environment. Instinct kicks in before you have any time to comprehend where you are and how you got there.
In that moment, I knew only one thing:
I needed to get out of that car.
I had no idea what condition the vehicle was in. All I pictured was me being trapped in a burning ball of wreckage.
There was only one problem:
I couldn’t move my right arm.
It was at this point that I learned a hard lesson. It is surprisingly difficult to unbuckle your seat belt with your left arm while hanging upside down.
After about 30 seconds of an awkward struggle, I managed to unbuckle the belt and lower myself down to the floor. (Which, keep in mind, the floor is actually the ceiling of my car.)
I shoulder-pressed the passenger door and it swung open. (Side note: car doors are a lot heavier when you’re working against gravity.)
At this point, my Saviour arrives. (I will refer to my new web design client as “Saviour”, just in case he values his privacy) He reaches down to grab my hand and helps me climb out.
He, along with a few others who pulled over to help, help me look over my body to find any injuries I suffered from the crash.
Stunningly, I don’t have a scratch on me. My head is untouched.
My right arm, however, is definitely injured. I’m still struggling to move it. And the pain is starting to arrive as the adrenaline wears off.
Once it was clear that I hadn’t suffered any major injuries, and my Saviour had already called for the police and an ambulance, the others left and continued on their journey to Toronto.
Which leaves me and my Saviour there on the side of road, with time to chat.
And when I say “time to chat”, I mean a lot of time. My crash happened out in the boonies. It would take over 20 minutes for an ambulance to arrive.
It was obvious that he started the conversation as a way to keep my mind stimulated and distracted from any pain or anxiety I was feeling.
But it quickly turned into a legitimate convo about everything from family to business.
And when he found out what I do for a living, he mentioned how he actually was looking for a web designer to build a website for his new business he was starting.
After the police arrived to take his witness statement, we exchanged contacts and I promised to reach out once everything settled down.
A few weeks later, after a few back and forths and project overview discussions, he accepted my proposal and became my latest web design client.
And, in case you’re wondering, I did indeed give him a Roadside Hero discount. 😉
How to roll your car into a ditch to acquire a new web design client
No. We’re not doing that.
This was the most chaotic way to acquire a new web design client that I could possibly imagine. There are no profound business lessons to be found here.
There was no strategy, it was just insane randomness.
Sure, I guess you could say that being friendly and connecting with people on a personal level will dramatically improve your professional opportunities in life. Personal networks are crucial.
But I don’t wanna be that guy.
I just wanted to share a fun story that could have been (and should have been, according to the cops and paramedics) very not fun.
I’m very fortunate to climb out of the wreckage with only minor injuries that are being healed through some virtual physiotherapy.
And I’m even more fortunate to somehow gain some new business out of this.
As for what exactly happened to cause my car to lose control like that, I’ll never know for sure. But I did witness three other cars slide around the exact same corner while they were pulling mine out of the ditch.
One little Mazda Miata slid so bad that the tow truck driver freaked out and jumped up onto the flatbed thinking it was going to crash into him!
Sounds to me like there was some kind of oil slick there…
Anyways, I can’t think of a more appropriate way to wrap up such a wild year.
Speaking of which, my annual State of My Web Design Business is coming up next!
Stay tuned. And stay safe.