Posted in Family, Faith and Fitness, Parenting/Running/Pets

Hit the squirrel…

I didn’t hit the squirrel. Here’s what happened.

A few days ago I was reminded of the Seinfeld Episode where George explains the unspoken agreement between drivers and pigeons.

Car (to the pigeons): Here I come.

Pigeon: Here comes a car, I’m going to move.

So if pigeons have an accord with drivers, surely the birds mentioned the deal to the squirrels.

Today’s blog is much like a Seinfeld episode – a blog about nothing. But what’s life without a lot of nothing mixed in with the stuff we take too seriously? Anyway, I love telling stories and you just might relate.

I was driving to pick up my daughter at swim practice and a squirrel darted into the road. I’m driving a RED car so you would think he would see it coming (no, I don’t know if they see color). Once in the middle, the squirrel decided to sit in squirrel prayer position and have a snack! As I drove closer, I began reasoning with it, which then turned into yelling through the closed windows AT the squirrel. He was definitely not listening.

I came to a SEMI-screeching halt (I’m a pokey driver) and stopped immediately in front of him. Glancing in the rearview mirror, I was relieved I didn’t cause a mini-van pile up in my attempt to save a life. Still, in no hurry, the squirrel dusted himself off, packed up his leftovers and casually strolled away. Kind of like those deliberately sluggish pedestrians who, unlike most chickens, seem to have NO reason to get to the other side.

Anyway, I gave a brave squirrel one more life, when in fact…

I was supposed to hit the squirrel.

HERE’S WHY:

Earlier in the year, my daughter and I took a Defensive Driving Course where the students were taught to maneuver around cones, drive in rainy conditions (it conveniently rained the whole day) and really feel the Anti-lock brake system in our car. In the parking lot, she was a natural. I was a wreck.

One of the main lessons they instilled in the student drivers was when an animal runs in the road, never. ever. swerve. Always “HIT THE SQUIRREL”.

During class, a street scene was set up to give the students a stopping point as they were directed to “floor it” toward the barricade.

Cones were set up to represent squirrels and trashcans were people. Once the driver is close, they follow the cue of the instructor who swings his hands to one side or the other. The student is directed to lock the steering wheel in that direction, step COMPLETELY on the brake, and NOT HIT anything unless it’s the squirrel. They stressed, “Someone could rear-end you if you were only thinking of the squirrel.” As always, the instructor followed up with a heartbreaking story about a car that swerved to miss a puppy, hit another car and the puppy was the only survivor.” Geez.

About 20 virtual squirrels were killed that day. I missed mine (they had parents try too) only because I illegally used my brakes prior to the stop. The “you messed up and used your brakes” oversized red flag was waved noting my mistake.

Deep down I know it’s better to power through an animal when driving and unfortunately so does the soul of the raccoon who stared me down as I drove my parents 1998 Buick over it. We were returning from the Grand Canyon and I assured the kids I DID NOT hit it.

Then I went to confession.

For some reason, the squirrel needed another chance. Most days, we all do.

When I arrived at swim, Cora got in the car and I said, “I didn’t hit the squirrel”.

“YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO HIT THE SQUIRREL!”

Once again, I was corrected by my 16-year-old. And once again, she was right. Darn it.

Spiritual journey: Say a prayer to St. Francis, the Patron Saint of Animals – pray for all animals. Pray, they realize the side of the street they are on is really the best choice.

Workout: When you walk or run today, watch for fast drivers. Not everyone stops for squirrels OR runners. Be safe.

 

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