September 28, 2017

"You Have Chosen... Poorly."

I have been driving for maybe 34 years altogether, and I know that I'm good at it.  My last ticket was back in 1987, given to me by a cop in a bad mood that pulled me over for turning left in an intersection when the light turned red.  So, yeah, I didn't even deserve the ticket I got, and it's long past showing up on my record.  I am safe, controlled, and well-behaved.  I turn my brights off before an oncoming car can see them, for heaven's sake.  But this morning, I had to make that most terrible of decisions every vehicular operator must make at least once in their motoring lives.

I was driving to work, a beautiful fall day in the offing.  The blue skies were lightly dotted with fluffy white clouds, the sun shone warmly (but not too warmly) upon the land, and there was even a pleasant breeze to enjoy.  My trip to work takes about 10 minutes or so from parking lot to parking lot, and as I drove I took a moment to admire the scenery along my route.  It's a kind of semi-rural street, if that makes sense.  There are homes, but spaced much further apart than they'd be in a city or town, and many of them border cornfields or very large lawns.  Trees line the road on either side, set back a bit but still looming over the drive.  Deer are a not-uncommon sight, particularly at night as they do deer-like things.  I've even seen notadogs, canine-shaped animals that I'm sure are not the friendly family pets we've come to know and love,  peering out of the overgrowth.  It's also very hilly, almost rollercoastery... there are times during the winter that I avoid that route out of fear.

So there I am, driving along at a brisk pace, when up ahead of me I spot a dark shape in the middle of my lane... clearly a dead animal.  Raccoon, possum, biggest damn squirrel ever, something like that, too far away for me to tell right then.  And it was then that I had to make The Choice.  I had three options in front of me.  First, I could drive right over it.  Or, I could go off the road to the right... this was a bad idea, for there was a drainage ditch just a couple of feet off the roadway, the bottom about eight feet below street level (though only a few feet below the level of the yard attached to it).  There was no run-off area otherwise.  Or third, I could swerve into the oncoming lane of traffic.  So really, no choice at all.  I positioned the Duckmobile just slightly off-center right to the deceased animal, as that particular model year had a weird mounting for the exhaust system/muffler that makes it visibly hang lower than the bottom of the car.  There wouldn't be any problem clearing the recently-departed furry thing.  And then, just as it passed below the front of my car, I realized that I had just made a terrible, terrible mistake.  It was bigger than I expected... and it had a white stripe on black fur.

The sound the skunk's body made as it hit the underside of my car was... not pleasant.  But the smell... oh god, the smell.  Even worse?  It wasn't going away!  The smell clung to my car like the skunk was... still...

I looked in the rear view mirror.  The skunkcorpse wasn't there.  And then, suddenly, it was, bouncing down the road as it scrubbed off all the momentum it had gained by being stuck underneath my car.  The sudden urge I felt to... um... "review inputs"... was not entirely due to the stench that followed my vehicle.

I have never been so glad to leave my car and head into work.  And I have never felt more trepidation than I felt this evening as I left the pleasant, airconditioned, mostly smell-free, office.  There was only the faintest whiff of skunk's revenge.

I took a different route home.

Posted by: Wonderduck at 11:05 PM | Comments (10) | Add Comment
Post contains 682 words, total size 5 kb.

1 Oh no!
I had to make a similar decision once, except the critter in question (a possum) was alive. Came around a poorly lit corner at night to see animal eyes in my headlights. Esplanade to the left, pickup truck with an incredibly long trailer (so I couldn't swerve OR brake) to the right...I just stomped on the gas and screamed as I went over it. (Incidentally, fear magnified that possum, and I would have sworn on a stack of Bibles it was the size of my 45-lb Australian shepherd.)
I still feel kind of bad. Oh well. 
I'm glad your car doesn't smell too bad! 

Posted by: Mrs. Will at September 29, 2017 07:12 AM (JPRju)

2 Oh man...
Where I live, we have one of the densest skunk populations in the Western United States.  I would guess that a skunk gets run over within scent of my house about once a week.  Most times, the smell spreads over the whole area at the time, then it dies down and you only notice if you drive past the scene.  We also get lots of skunk/dog interaction, and most of the dogs have learned enough to not get sprayed unless they encounter a skunk without realizing in advance what it was.  But if the skunk sprays nearby and hits a fence or the side of a house, you'll smell it for hours.
This summer, my brother's dog got sprayed bad and fled inside while they weren't home.  She had rolled on the carpet and rubbed against pretty much every piece of furniture trying to get the paste off by the time they got home, and it took them weeks and multiple visits by professional cleaners, not to mention throwing out tons of stuff, to get the smell out of their home.

Posted by: David at September 29, 2017 11:58 AM (HWHxc)

3 Reminds me of my move to California lo these many years ago. 

Enjoying a   pleasant night drive past Flagstaff, Arizona, I saw something like that in my high beams,  far enough in advance for my brain to register the word "skunk" but not in time for my hands and feet to do anything useful about it. 

Hearing the poor guy go "thump" under the car filled me with unpleasant emotions above and beyond the killing of an animal.  From the horror stories one hears, I was afraid I might have to burn the car or something.  (I didn't know it at the time, but in retrospect, digging a pit and setting fire to the Antichrysler might not have been an entirely bad thing...)

Thankfully skunks have a fairly directional weapon,  and the BUTT TOWARD ENEMY label was pointed at the pavement.    Continuing the rest of the way to Kingman with all four windows down reduced the smell to a level I could live with, and I'm sure that within a day or two it was largely psychosomatic.

Posted by: Ad absurdum per aspera at September 29, 2017 01:25 PM (mcuaV)

4 Ah, Skunks. The smell reminds me of brand-new Roscolux gels in front of a 1K Leko. Only much, much stronger.

Posted by: Mauser at September 29, 2017 06:28 PM (TYvUn)

5 The platte where I currently dwell is skunk heaven. I see skunks all the time, if I get up early enough, and I often smell unhappy skunks in different parts of the platte.

However, the area immediately around my own apartment is close to a cat haven, and the local cat population keeps the skunks away.

Posted by: Suburbanbanshee at September 29, 2017 06:30 PM (BYYJV)

6 Forgot to say congratulations about your Cubs!

Of course, this year the Indians are going to win.

Posted by: Suburbanbanshee at September 29, 2017 06:49 PM (BYYJV)

7 Mauser, if you think that's bad, try putting actual GELS in front of said ERS.  And by "actual gels", I don't mean the polycarb/polyester stuff we use these days, I mean sheets of dried colored gelatin.
My god, could those things get whiffy!  Still, they're the basis for the greatest theatre gag I've ever pulled, so I remember them fondly.

Posted by: Wonderduck at September 29, 2017 09:43 PM (Mxu+F)

8 There was thinner stuff called Roscolene that was more expensive and was supposed to last longer, but didn't smell as much. It wasn't as deeply tinted either. Roscolux finally stopped smelling about an hour before it started to melt and turn brown.... (I exagerate...)

And of course, there were the amazing abstract sculptures you would extract from the lamp housings when someone didn't wipe off the bulb....

Posted by: Mauser at September 30, 2017 10:23 AM (TYvUn)

9 Roscolux is the polycarb/polyester blend I mentioned above.  Roscolene is PVC-based.  Lux is heat-resistant, Lene should be perfect for LED-based lights (I don't know, I've never used an LED-based instrument).
I once saw a FEL shatter both lenses of an ERS.  Filled with bad juju, those things.

Posted by: Wonderduck at September 30, 2017 11:00 AM (Mxu+F)

10 It's been a long time. My theater experience ended with High School. (But we had a HUGE theater, one of the largest in New Jersey.)

Posted by: Mauser at October 01, 2017 10:44 AM (TYvUn)

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