The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

October 26, 2013

That was no pothole; that was road kill

From The Back Porch column

By Nerissa Young
Columnist

— I hit a coon on my way home from work Monday. It was about 10:30 p.m., and the dark-colored bandit shot across the road like Honey Boo-Boo’s mom heading for the buffet at Golden Corral.

I slowed and turned the steering wheel, but I heard a thump on the passenger side wheel. The fat little feller met the Maker.

It bothers me to maim or kill an animal that I’m not purposely hunting. Some people think road kill doesn’t count, but I can count on one hand the animals I have sent to the Pearly Gates in 30 years of driving. Every one of them bothered me. I even shed tears for some of them.

I am a populist West Virginian with a live-and-let-live philosophy. If someone or something isn’t bothering me, I try to leave the person or thing alone.

Folks could say, “Dumb coon!” I don’t because coons aren’t the only ones dumb about crossing the road. Just ask the chicken. Or the possum.

When I lived in Shepherdstown and regularly rode or walked the C&O Canal towpath, I saw too many times that humans aren’t any smarter than animals about getting out of the road.

Many was the time I rode up behind some walkers and said, “Passing on your left” to let them know I was coming around. Nearly every time, one or both of them promptly stepped into the path of my bicycle. The whole point of warning them was to get them out of the way, not in it.

Dumb coon, right?

It seems there is something innate in all animals that draws them to danger instead of sending them away from it. Perhaps the lights attract them or the sound of a voice, but it’s like a magnetic force field sucking them toward injury no matter who or what tries to intervene.

And I’ve been that dumb coon myself when a biker or motorist came up behind me. My instinctive jump always put me in the path of danger.

Wednesday morning, I carefully scanned the roadside on my way to work. I didn’t see a coon or battered remains. I looked again on the way home since I was in the same lane as when the collision occurred.

Nothing — except crumpled deer remains in the side ditch. Maybe Rocky had survived. I dared to hope. Maybe instead of killing him, I just shaved a few inches of unwanted cellulite off his haunches. Yes, I had simply done for him what he couldn’t do for himself with Jenny Craig.

I told Mom about the unfortunate event. Since I hadn’t seen anything of the coon, perhaps my picture was not tacked to a tree in the forest warning all of God’s other creatures that I was a cold-wheeled murderer.

“Somebody probably had coon for supper,” Mom answered, emotionless.

Gee, Mom, thanks a lot. I feel so much better now.

— Young is a Register-Herald columnist. E-mail: ynerissa@frontier.com

© Nerissa Young 2013