This is the tale of Shovel Man. Let’s set the scene. It’s a dark and stormy night. Rain is pelting down as we drive along Perth’s Mitchell Freeway in our white Hyundai Accent rental. Traffic is light, as it’s nearly 8:15 p.m. on a Monday.
We exit onto Erindale Road and head west to continue onto North Beach Road. The street is dim and deserted. But wait… there’s something in the middle of the road a ways up. No, not something; someone.
What is that? A man? I wonder if he needs help.
A hush has fallen in the car as we crawl along, getting ever closer to the man, who doesn’t make any move to get out of the road. Rather, he starts walking toward us. An eerie sensation creeps through my body as we draw nearer.
And then I see his hands. He’s clutching a shovel. Thoughts swirl in my mind while time seems to move impossibly slow.
Why does he have a shovel? Where did he come from? What has this man been up…
My ruminations ceased as soon as we made eye contact. I have never seen deader looking eyes. It was like he was in another galaxy.
And then a violent spark came into his eyes with a sudden fury. He stepped out of our path, raising the shovel into the air. He swung and smacked the rear passenger door.
But I scarcely heard the impact of the shovel over his manic cackle, “Muahahaha!” It sent a shiver through my whole body and adrenaline kicked in.
I sped off into the distance, and Jess immediately called the police to report the incident. The woman taking the report echoed our thoughts, saying it sounded like we were in a horror movie. It felt like we were. It was such a surreal experience.
We made it back to our accommodation shaken, but safe. It took a while for us to settle in, but eventually we called it a night. I had a restless night’s sleep, but woke up determined to enjoy the new day.
Jess and I set off for a quick trip to the mall, which is when we noticed the large scratch Shovel Man had left on the rear passenger door. So we decided to report the incident to the car rental company: Budget.
They faxed us an accident report form. We spent the night filling it out, which actually turned out to be a lot of fun. We were both still shaken from the experience, but we could recognize the humor in the absurdity of the situation.
My favorite part of filling out the form was creating the diagram of the accident. Typically, it would be a sketch of the impact between two cars, but it was just us and Shovel Man. So Jess drew the scene (as seen in the post’s feature photo): our car traveling west just as Erindale Road transitions into North Beach Road, and Shovel Man standing in the distance (depicted as a stick figure with a shovel). A line shows Shovel Man’s movement, and in his new location there is an action shot him striking the car as we drive by.
We ended up paying about $350 for the “repair” of the scratch with our insurance coverage. Though had we paid for the repair outright, we would have saved about $15. I was furious with Shovel Man and annoyed with Budget over the whole ordeal.
Especially considering I asked for pictures of the repair throughout the two months following the incident, but never got anything. I’m still convinced that Budget simply asked their repair shop connection for a quote, billed us and never had the scratch fixed.
But in the end there wasn’t much I could do about it. And looking back, I can’t help but laugh at how ridiculous the whole ordeal was! If I had experienced it alone, I would seriously question whether Shovel Man existed. But he was there.
Unfortunately, the police never found Shovel Man. He just disappeared into the night.
Shout out to my father, who drew the above rendition of our interaction with Shovel Man. As I recalled the events of our encounter with my dad via Skype, he was inspired to sketch his interpretation of Shovel Man.