A Raccoon Story

On my way to work at five this morning, a line of  raccoons came charging out of the bushes into the road. I managed a quick look in the rearview mirror and saw no one behind me, so I braked, but these things kept coming one after another. They were super excited to be going somewhere. The last one–the fifth–felt me bearing down on it and stopped. It knew it was a goner. It didn’t know about cars or roads but it had a vague sense of its doom. (I’m pretty good at reading raccoon body language.) I slammed the brakes and skidded to a stop inches from it. The thing looked up at me (I swear it gave a slight upward head nod),  turned around, and went back into the bushes. I drove on feeling pretty good about myself. Some of it was that self-congratulatory, Ghandi bullshit where the source of pride comes from a feeling of superiority, but most of it was wholesome. Then I started thinking, what if the last raccoon was a rabid killer? No wonder the first four seemed so anxious. They were terrified! But then I thought the first four might have been raccoon terrorists and the last one had foiled their plot and was now chasing them down armed with nothing but its sense of justice. But then I really thought, a tad more seriously, about the value of the life of a raccoon. I could have crunched that thing and kept right on going. People speed up and aim for animals crossing roads. Good people who are polite to strangers and feel deeply sad when tsunamis hit on the opposite side of the planet. Kids who tear legs off water striders grow up to be good parents. Who am I? The cumulative effect of satisfying little moments where I skidded my tires to save the life of a raccoon I could have just as easily killed. Who would I be if I had missed all those opportunities? I’ve missed enough as it is. Whether a bug ends up wadded in toilet paper and flushed, or released outside will matter only to you.

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One thought on “A Raccoon Story

  1. This is great! Emily and I raised two raccoons from babies until they were about a year old and ready to go on their own. All creatures deserve respect, except when they are trying to bite you! Also, we do let most bugs go! You are a good soul. I will send you a personal message about getting together, sorry I didn’t get back to you on that, I will explain….

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