Saturday, October 10, 2009

On Death And Driving

Let's talk about death. You know, because I've used up all the other topics over the last five years, and I don't think I have fully covered this one. And I'm in one of those moods to piss people off. The death I'm going to dwell on today is furry death. Animals no longer breathing. Four-legged victims of man's need for speed.

The #1 son told me of a student at school who ran over a squirrel. She called her mom, in tears, so upset was she after flattening a forest rodent. I don't remember the exact consoling quote from her mother, but I want to think it went a little something like, "Don't worry. There are a thousand more waiting beside the road to take his place." See, nature expects animal casualties. That's why animals have litters several times a year, instead of one baby after 9 months. They're animals. They die. The world doesn't end.

On the way to The Devil's Playground this morning, I heard on the radio that some famous singer had crashed his car due to a deer in the road. I don't remember who it was, or when, because I was only half listening to XM '70s music, and switching stations willy-nilly. But the gist of it was that the dude was driving home at 3:00 a.m. (sober as a church mouse, I'm sure), and a deer stepped into the road and was mesmerized by the car lights. The singer dude hit the brakes and steered to the right, and went up an embankment and hit a tree. He wasn't hurt badly, but the car was totaled. Oh, and the focus of the story was that, "...and the deer's life was saved." People. It's a deer. If some of them are not killed by drivers or hunters, they will become overpopulated and starve to death. I doubt the singer dude thought, "I must steer away to save this deer's life!" No, more than likely, he thought, "Oh, sh*t! There's a m*****f***ing deer in the road! I'm going to die when it crashes through my windshield!" Then he yanked the wheel.

One of my dormies in college was on a run for the border, taking several buds to Taco Bell for a late-night snack. She ran over a cat that darted out in front of her old station wagon. As if it wasn't bad enough to be driving a station wagon. She was so discombobulated that she drove back to the dorm, having lost her appetite for beany goodness. All because of a cat. Yes, it was probably somebody's pet. But if that somebody really loved his pet, he would have kept his pet in the house or on a leash. Because that's what you do in the city.

Here's the thing. Fluffy is not a child. Some people get attached to their pets, but Fluffy is still just an animal. Folks make a big deal about wanting revenge on a person who ran over their pet, or think that the killer should stop and knock on doors until they find the pet owner and break the news that Fluffy is now deceased. No. Keep Fluffy safe. Don't point fingers. Fluffy bit it because Fluffy tried to occupy the same space at the same time as a metal deathmobile. The driver can't swerve into oncoming traffic, or drive off the road just because Fluffy is running from her shadow. PEOPLE'S lives could be at stake. Fluffy should be fenced or leashed. Fluffy's owner murdered Fluffy, not the driver.

I live in the country. My dogs run loose. We are a mile from a paved road. If somebody ran over my dog, I would not be happy. But I would not blame the driver. It's my fault. I let the dog run free. The driver is on the road where cars belong. Not dogs. My mom ran over one of my childhood dogs. Too bad, so sad. A car-chasing dog will come to a bad end. HH ran over Cubby in our driveway, because Cubby did not get out from under the truck when HH started it up. Cubby was too dumb to live. That's not to say we didn't mourn for Cubby. But Cubby was just an animal. He could have lived his life for 10 or 12 years at the end of a chain, neurotic, barking, straining to get free. Or he could roam the countryside. It's a gamble. You have to weigh the options.

There are hundreds of Cubbies cooling their heels in dog pounds, waiting to be adopted. But while they're in those dog pounds, they're not running free. In fact, they probably ended up in the dog pound because they WERE running free. And the penalty for running free is death. Because if they don't get adopted, they die.

Life's a b*tch, huh? And so am I. A heartless, cold, anti-pet b*tch, so ugly even the dogs won't play with me. OK, that last part was courtesy of a student from my first year of teaching. But that's my opinion, and I'm stickin' to it, unpopular though it may be.

Now I must go ruminate on new ways to bring you down each evening.

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