A rabbit tried to run a suicide mission with my truck this morning on the way to work. If I had bumper stickers on my truck, one of them would say “I Brake For Animals.” Another one would say, “Ban Open Pit Mining, Let the Bastards Freeze in the Dark,” but we won’t go there today. I’ve already been accused by a loyal reader of being too activist lately. Anyway, I swerved to avoid the rabbit which I estimated to be less than a year old. He/she (didn’t have time to verify sex) put on the brakes the same as I did, and reversed field completely running back through two lanes of traffic to safety. Luckily no other cars were coming on my right.
I swerve for animals too. Without thinking. Not really a good thing when there is oncoming traffic. But I like that about myself. That I value the life of a squirrel, or a rabbit, or a porcupine, or a dog enough to risk getting side-swiped or rear-ended in my truck with the high insurance deductible. Cats not so much, but I still wouldn’t purposely hit one.
I’ve had no choice but to hit animals though, and I don’t stop to assess the damage, that I can remember. I’m a hit and run. In most cases I can’t stop because of conditions, but most of the time I’m usually just too shook up. I wouldn’t be much help, I suspect, to the animal pancake anyway. If the animal isn’t a pancake, it could get dangerous. Either way, it ruins my whole day.
Like the time I was driving through Denver, Colorado in the 1966 VW Bus known as “Bernie.” I saw the person first. Darting through traffic, cars traveling at 70 mph. Slamming on their brakes. I didn’t see why she was trying to get across four lanes of traffic until it was too late. I looked to my left and saw the dog taking a whiz on the barricade just seconds before he darted back to his owner’s voice. The first car missed him and he almost made it past Bernie before he bounced off the front bumper.
I didn’t mean to hit it, I was trying not to kill the dumb ass that stopped their car on the side of a busy interstate highway to let their dog take a leak! My heart was pounding out of my chest. I can feel it even now just talking about it. I didn’t go back to check either. I was soon bumper to bumper in five lanes of traffic and couldn’t go back even if I’d wanted to. I stopped at the nearest rest stop outside of Denver and assessed the damage. No dog parts, no blood, no dent in the bus. Sure felt like I hit him. (I had time to check the sex in this case. He wasn’t peeing like a puppy on the center barricade.) That happened well over 35 years ago and it still bothers me.
My favorite story about an animal in the road though, is when my wife and I were traveling on a two-lane state highway in Wyoming on our way to Flaming Gorge. We’re tooling along pretty good in the truck camper, and my wife says, “Dear.” I say “What”. She says, “Dear,” a bit louder, and I say back, also a little louder, “What?” I glanced at her and she’s not even looking at me. She says again, almost a panic in her voice “DEER!” Just before I screamed what back at her, the mule deer standing in the middle of the highway came into my view. It was a “white-tail.” I slammed on the brakes. Remember, I brake for animals, but if you hit a deer with a truck there won’t be a lot left of either. The truck and camper slid a few feet and came to a stop. The deer, looked up, right at me, and slowly walked off the road.
We laughed for hours. WTF.
And just so you know, I didn’t cry at “Brian’s Song” the first or the last time I saw it. And none of the witnesses know where I live now. WTF does that have to do with anything, you ask? Well, nothing.