There's nothing like an unqualified pummelling to inspire a practical respect for the power of nature. I thought about that as I lay curled in a fetal position on the hotel bed, enduring waves of nausea and wanting nothing more than to drift off into unconsciousness.
"Are you alright?" asked my wife, and I assured her that I was just fine, only I could use a few more minutes of resting limp as a rag doll, if she didn't mind looking after the girls during that time. To my surprise, I felt remarkably better within an hour, and we were able to resume our vacation with no further delay. For a brief period, however, I felt like I had been set upon by a gang of thugs and left for dead in an alley. All because I didn't have the good sense to recognize the difference between harmless fun and obvious danger.
A few things I learned on a recent Saturday afternoon:
- If you want to send someone's car into an uncontrollable spin, simply veer sharply into the side of the vehicle just ahead of the rear wheel.
- The back seat of a police cruiser is not upholstered.
- Concrete median barriers are a really good idea.
- Never assume that a stranger has an active moral conscience.
- My brother and I are lucky to be alive and uninjured.
It would be the last time that Brian would drive his late-model Saturn, though neither of us could have known. Like most days that are later defined by a singular incident, this particular Saturday began as unremarkably as any other. We simply thought it would be fun to have lunch on the other side of town, and 670 was the way to go. We had just passed the Neil Avenue exit, enjoying an animated conversation, and I was right in the middle of saying something when Brian suddenly muttered a tense word of alarm. Someone in the lane to our left had just run into our rear driver side.
Deer math: one medium doe + Honda Odyssey + 25mph = $3,749.47
A century is but the blink of an eye on the grand scale of evolutionary adaptation. Perhaps that is why the white-tailed deer, an animal that has developed a keen instinct for avoiding humans advancing on foot, has not yet recognized the lethal danger of the vehicles its predators drive. With more than one hundred years of automotive history and the increasing encroachment of civilization upon wildlife, one might think that the dim creatures would have adapted to the threat and learned to flee from approaching cars. Yet they remain frustratingly oblivious to traffic, so much so that we now refer to anyone who stupidly stares down imminent destruction without attempting escape as "a deer caught in the headlights."
Here in Ohio, where the white-tailed deer is the official State Mammal, tales of near misses and costly collisions with the beasts are quite common. At an estimated statewide whitetail population of 750,000, there is one deer for every fifteen of Ohio's 11.5 million residents, so it's no surprise that our paths cross frequently. According to the Ohio Department of Transportation, there were 25,149 "deer-vehicle crashes" in 2009. Just before 11:00 on a Saturday morning last December, one of those collisions was between a galloping doe and our family's minivan.