Pin It My long-time friend Becky and I were driving home from a concert the other night when she reminded me of this little deer incident that occurred back before the kids and houses and jobs and everything else started taking over our lives--back, really, when we were just kids ourselves. We were probably in our early twenties, and driving down a relatively uninhabited stretch of 29, heading out to go hiking at Crabtree Falls.
I remember rolling down the highway in the middle of the morning in my little hunter green Suzuki Sidekick, and pausing in mid-sentence. "Is that....yeah, I think it is. Look at that crazy deer!" I squinted up at the opposite lanes in the far distance. My eyesight wasn't great to begin with, but that sure did look like a deer, bounding across the two opposing lanes of traffic.
Becky looked and murmured her agreement. I slowed down a little and we watched in silence as it dodged cars left and right until it made the relative safety of the grassy median. There we lost sight of it for a few moments. The median was wide and interspersed with trees and scrub bushes--plenty of cover for an animal to shelter in. "Wait! There it is!" I caught sight of it again. It had come to the edge of our side of the median and paused, watching the oncoming traffic. "Unreal," I muttered. "I can't believe it actually made it across--"
Around that time, the deer apparently decided it had waited in the median long enough. Or perhaps some flashing red "RUN NOW!" signal that only deer can observe lit up. Whatever the reason, the deer took off, directly into the approaching cars.
Naturally, the only vehicle that made contact with the deer was mine. While I watched, mouth agape at the animal's daring, it leapt directly into the side of my Sidekick, glancing heavily and in awkward slow motion all along every single panel there was to actually make contact with before lumbering off into the woods that lined the other side of the road. I pulled over on the side of the road to inspect the damage.
There were beautiful big indentations all along my vehicle, and hair caught in the wheels. (I'm sure those aren't the technical terms, but hey. I'm a girl.) Random thoughts skipped through my head. My insurance is going to go up. Does it count as a hit-and-run if I leave the scene? Or is the deer the hit-and-run culprit? Who do I exchange insurance cards with? What a loser deer, playing in traffic. Dang. I really wanted to go hiking.
After a few minutes I put my hands on my hips and shrugged my shoulders. "Well. It's done now. Let's go."
I climbed back in the car. Beck followed, a little slower. "Umm...are you sure? What about insurance? Or the police? Aren't you going to call them?"
It was Saturday. "I'll call them later," I said. "Right now we're going hiking."
She looked at me like I was crazy. "Are you sure?"
"Can't do anything about it now. I'll just take pictures later."
And so we went hiking, and enjoyed the day. And I took pictures, and perhaps received a teensy-tiny lecture from my insurance adjuster's secretary about not calling the police at the scene of an accident, but I pled a blond moment and was forgiven.
Beck reminded me of this incident as we drove home along the same stretch of highway, and warmed my heart a little when she told me that she'd never forgotten how I'd managed to shrug off and get past something that would have bothered her profoundly. It would have ruined the day, she said, and probably more than that. It taught her a lesson about lightening up, and not taking things so seriously.
I thought guiltily, jeez. Here I am, more than ten years later, needing to learn my own lesson. I'm a mother now, and I take life way too seriously more often than not. If I got a flat tire out on the road with my kids in tow, I'd probably freak out. Let's face it: I freak out when Lawson forgets when he's supposed to exchange Valentines. I freak out when someone changes plans on me unexpectedly (you mean I need to adapt!?)
It's a fact of this life that things will happen that are out of our control. Handling them with grace and humor eases the load a little...I'd forgotten that.
I've gotten way too serious. I need to lighten up. Thanks, Beck, for reminding me of who I used to be.
Here's to deer with timing issues: may they dent your Sidekick but not your spirits.