Wednesday, November 07, 2007

An Urgent Warning



Our car insurance company sent me a warning yesterday -- A warning that sent chills up and down my extremely pretty spine.

It seems we live in an area with a large deer population, and we are at elevated risk of deer collision. I'm going to post the tips they sent me, then I'm going to tell you why it frightens me almost to the level that clowns frighten me.

Here is the total list with my notes:

Do not swerve to avoid hitting the deer, which could result in loss of control or hitting another vehicle. Swerving is the reason for most deer-related deaths and injuries. (Just hit the bastard. Seriously, you think he'd swerve to miss you? Don't hold your breath.)

In the event of a deer collision, brake firmly and keep the steering wheel straight. Stay in your lane to avoid hitting other vehicles. (No hitting other cars. Got it.)

Do not rely on deer whistles and other deer-deterrent devices. They have not been proven effective. (The only thing that works is a sharpened stake through the heart.)

When driving at night, use your high beams when there is no oncoming traffic. The lights cause deer's eyes to glow, making them more visible. High beams also help you see farther, giving you additional time to react if a deer is on or near the road. (See below)

Deer can suddenly dart across a road when distracted by lights or the sound of a horn. (Never mind that high-beams thing we mentioned earlier. Our intern wrote that.)

Deer often travel in groups. If you see a deer, be prepared for additional deer to follow. (And to hunger for revenge that can only be quenched with human flesh)

•Deer can be found on highways and busy city streets, not just rural roads. (Bold font mine)

Drive cautiously through posted deer-crossing areas. (Drive like a meth-addled long-haul trucker everywhere else.)

Contact your local law enforcement to remove a deer that is lying in the road for the safety of other approaching vehicles. Never approach a deer yourself. (Good luck with that.)

Wear your safety belt at all times. (And, if possible, a helmet.)

Now, gather around dear readers while I share a tale of yesteryear:

Once upon a time, I went to college in a tiny little town in Arkansas. The county was dry -- Like Not-Even-A-Starbucks Dry -- and the nearest movie theatre was forty-five minutes away past the nuclear power plant. It was an odd way to do the college thing.

One night I went for a drive through the downtown area to buy some cola and listen to They Might Be Giants which was stuck in my CD player (though I didn't mind). It was a little after 11pm, and almost everything in town was closed.

As I cruised blissfully along, I had time to note movement outside my driver's side window before a giant deer slammed into the side of my car and tumbled down the asphalt behind me. I paused and noticed that the deer was still slightly moving behind me.

Now, I'm not one to hug trees per se, but a suffering animal is another matter entirely. I drove on to the nearest open gas station to try to call the police or animal control or something. I parked in front of the plate glass window and hopped out, sparing a glance at the caved-in side of my car while running in to ask the clerk to call the authorities.

To his credit, he tried. Animal Control was closed and the police (for reasons which still escape me) are apparently unable to discharge a weapon within the city limits.

About this time, a man in overalls who I had completely overlooked but who had heard my entire story spoke up from the seating area in the back of the store.

"Boy," he started (and I had grown accustomed to being called "boy" by the locals by this time),"See that rifle?" He gestured to the ginormous gun leaning in the corner. "That there is a eighteen hunnerd dollar huntin' rifle. I been hunting deer in these woods all season ain't shot a damn thing. And here you truck your hippie ass up from Texas and kill one with a Jap - An - Ease car?"

I nodded, still staring at the gun, and backed out of the store. "Never make eye contact with the locals!" my brain screamed at me.

I drove back down the road and past the still form of the deer by the side of the road. I watched him in my rear view window, saddened at my inability to help the creature or at least ease its suffering.

Then, to my amazement, the deer stood up. It made the deer equivalent of an obscene gesture and hopped over the nearest fence to vanish into the woods.

It was then that I realized that deer use smashing up our cars as a rite of passage. This was completely glossed over in Bambi but a key plot point in Bambi 2.

Be careful, friends. The deer are out there. And they are angry, vicious creatures with their eyes and antlers set on total global domination.

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