I wouldn’t call myself a city slicker, but I did grow up in an urban area compressed with people. My developmental years were spent in an eight-story tenement building, one of sixteen, in Fairfield County, Connecticut, which at the time was the most affluent county in the nation. Of course, I knew what road kill was, but I did not encounter it nearly as much as I have in the Midwest. For the most part, I have been spared colliding with stray animals, until Thursday of last week.
Getting off the highway and onto a county road, I had slowed from 65 mph to about 50, when I entered an area that was pitch black. Before I knew it, two dark and thick animals scurried from the wire-fenced median and darted in front of my car. I realized it was impossible for me to stop, so I steeled myself for the bump: more concerned about injuring one or two of God’s creatures than the bloody smudge that might appear on my bumper. What actually occurred was a complete surprise!
You see, I had decided earlier this year to sell my Toyota Camry of eight years to someone in need of a vehicle. I had already determined I wanted to find a new car, one that was cheap and good on mileage and did not have the thrills to which I had grown accustomed with my sleek, six-cylinder sedan. I considered getting a hybrid, but finally settled on a Yaris—the two-door liftback kind. I took the car on the lot, which was white and without any of the electronic gadgetry I enjoyed with my Camry. It took some getting used to, but I was pleased with its simplicity, except for the exterior white.
I am not a small man. Needless to say, I encountered many people who simply got a kick out of me being cramped in the driver’s seat. Having not experienced the Yaris, they were unaware of the deceptively roomy interior. To make a long story short, I suffered from their attempts at humiliation with a secret pride that I had decided to opt for a bare-boned vehicle. No regrets!
Last Thursday night, my vehicular disposition completely changed. I heard a crack, then a thud, as I hit at least one of the animals in front of me and continued on my way to by traditional stop at the gas station a few blocks from where I live. I had thought the crack and the thud were a bit much for two trifling raccoons, but I had no qualms about my obeisance to traffic recommendations regarding deer and pesky vermin. As I exited my car, I cavalierly glanced at the front of my vehicle. Much to my surprise, the bottom of the fender was broken in two and bent inward, where the prongs had punctured the car’s radiator! Fluid from the radiator was pouring out onto the asphalt and the red pool at first made me think that the bloody raccoon was somehow still attached to my car’s underbelly. One of the brave clerks at the convenience store informed this automotive ignoramus that the redness was Freon and that I could probably make it home before damaging my car.
At the collision center where I brought my car, I was told that at least one car each day is brought in with damage from a sturdy, apparently well-fed raccoon. Momentarily relieved, I tried to convince myself that I had not gone wrong in my car selection in the late winter of 2010. After all, the damage was fixable and the bulk of the $1,500 would be covered by my insurance. However, when I was given a raggedy loaner vehicle for a day, because I couldn’t locate a rental car, and then finally found one with only 11,000 miles on it but still a clunker, my heart started to change a tad bit. What if it were a deer? Would my whole car split in two, with me standing on the concrete as if in one of Fred Flintstone’s motor-less contraptions?
Tomorrow, I am meeting with a car salesperson, a friend, to upgrade to some hybrid or other. At the very least, I got a poem out of the ordeal!
There once was a raccoon named Bud,
Who was ye old stick in the mud:
He and his mate, Paris,
Ran front of my Yaris,
And broke it in two with a thud!