Monday, November 17, 2008

Life Comes at You Faster

That's what they say to sell you car insurance, anyway.

But it really does. Tonight, it came at me in the gray-brown shape of a doe. Not running so much as appearing, already in motion, frozen in time, as I drove down a road bordered on one side by woods, farmland on the other. There is a snapshot of her lean, frantic, sprinting body burned into the left side of my brain. I don't remember hitting the brakes, only the sound of squealing tires, and the loud bang, not even an impact that you could feel, just a sound. And then she flew, who was never made to fly.

Meanwhile, my car.

You can see the ghost of her right rear leg where it wiped away the dirt on the bumper. She was dead by the time I reached her, for which I am grateful. I heard her companions in the woods, running away.

She was, in fact, my second deer. The first one survived our encounter with little more than a sore snout, and maybe a bruised ego, if deer are proud. It happened on my first day as a Fed Ex driver. I was out on my first training tour, driving back to the station along a mountain highway in Virginia, when a buck came galloping down the slope toward the road. I never thought I would hit him. My trainer never thought I would hit him. But somehow we were destined to meet, and I struck him on the nose with my side mirror. The thing I remember the most were his cartoon-like efforts to stop on the wet pavement just before we met, briefly, and barely hard enough to turn the mirror.

Tonight happened incredibly fast. From the moment I saw her to the moment of impact was probably less than a second. The suddeness of it has introduced a moment of hesitation into my movements. Not just driving. Even walking through the grocery store. I keep waiting for another deer to materialize in my beams, hurtling toward our mutual fate.


clindsay said...

I am so sorry.

I hit a deer once once, about twenty years ago. I was on my way home from a late evening class, and was coming to a stop at an badly lit four-way top. It was in the San Mateo hills in Northern California, a very wooded area south of San Francisco.

As I slowed at a yellow light, the deer just appeared. I slammed on my brakes as hard as I could but couldn't stop in time. The deer was very small and bounced across the hood of my old Toyota Celica like a stuffed animal. It was the most sickening sound I'd ever heard.

When I got out of the car to check on the deer, s/he was nowhere to be found. I looked everywhere and the more I looked, the more distraught I became.

I got back in the car, drove home, forced my poor roommate - who was stoned out of his mind and on painkillers because he was learning to walk on a prosthetic leg - I made this poor bastard come back out to the scene of the crime with a flashlight to look for the deer.

I think I cried for about six hours straight.

We never did find the deer. I hope s/he survived and learned not to run across Highway 280 again.


Jeff said...

I feel worse for the deer than I do for my car, which I have driven for five years without a scratch. Although I am not opposed to killing animals for food, this was just such a waste of a life.

autoegocrat said...

I was driving home about two months ago and suddenly the right side of my car came off the ground and caught about a foot of air. After checking to make sure I was still alive and hadn't crashed into something, I pulled over, because I was close enough to walk home if there was any significant damage.

So I get out, check the car, and I can't find any sign that anything had happened at all. So I begin searching for whatever it was that could have caused the momentary suspension of the laws of gravity for one side of my car and there it was: a turtle the size of a shoebox was slowly plodding his way across the road, ignoring me as if nothing had ever happened.

The moral of the story, if there is one, is that deer need to wear body armor if they're going to jaywalk like that.

BetteDavisLies said...

My father took my first car to work one day while his was in the shop. On the dark road from our house to his factory, he ran over a dead deer in my little plymouth neon. The smell got into the car, and when I took my driver's test for my license a few days later, the woman grading my ability to drive nearly vomited in the floor board. She cut the test short, and made me return to the depot. I probably would have never gotten my permit if it hadn't been for that deer.

Still, on my commute down I-40 yesterday, I was distraught by all of the deer bodies littering the road. It's incredible.

Jeff said...

Bette, send me an email, if you would. I have a professional question.

Jeff said...

Estimate for repairs...

$2,441 !!!!!!!!