Well, I sure have been enjoying the answers to the Troll Polls. I didn't download that long one but just reading about two of the questions sent me to speculating about recent events.
Somewhere in that Troll poll was a query about running a red light or talking your way out of a ticket. Here recently I was traveling a fine Carolina road between cities. It's one of those older four lane divided highways transverses undeveloped lands with a few smallish towns every 15 or 20 miles. I like it better than the interstates cause here some schedule crazed trucker is not trying to kill me. The speed limit is a tad slower than the interstates, something which is largely ignored by most who travel this stretch of asphalt. Me among them.
While I was traveling one of those big empty stretches, I was deep in thought. I was not on the phone or having one of my loud music with all the windows open sprees. No, I was doing my creative problem solving thinking on the project I would start tackling once I got back to the office. Remember that vision thing I blogged about a while back? I was using that method of problem solving but honestly doing this does not impact my driving skills.
I came out of my deep thinking once I noticed the whirling blue light in the rear view mirror.
I found a good spot for pulling on over and mashed the window button down for friendly conversation. I watched the Trooper come on forward with a big, purposeful stride. He went straight on past the car door then turned to face me from the far side of the side view mirror.
" Morning Ma'am"
" Ma'am, you got any idea how fast you were going"?
( a lengthy pause)
" Well, I guess not"
" Huh. You got any idea how many miles I been on your bumper"?
( another pause)
" Actually no".
" Are you experiencing a medical emergency"?
" Are you late for a meeting of some urgency"?
Trooper paused and removed his sunglasses for a bit of eye contact.
" Well Ma'am, I've been with you for the past 7 or 8 miles. You haven't been on a cell phone, you haven't been belting out your favorite songs to the fast music, you have not altered your rate of speed one dang bit and I know you ain't on cruise control cause you is smooth as smooth uphill and downhill. You ain't been digging in your purse, or putting on makeup or combing your hair or fiddling with the cd's or the radio. What you been doing is driving smooth and fast but pretty soon we were coming up on a little township and I sure wasn't going to let you keep on like this.
So now tell me, what exactly have you been doing besides driving fast"?
" Well, I guess I was just concentrating on something more than I realized".
"You concentrate harder than anybody I ever seen. What was all that concentrating about"?
" A design problem".
" A what"?
" Well, I am a designer, which is really a profession of creative problem solving, and I do a good bit of that in my head".
" Well, Miss designer, is this your car? Do you have your insurance card and a driver's license"?
So I handed over the license and insurance card and Trooper went on back to his Crown Vic for a bit. In just a couple of minutes he came back on over to lean on the mirror again.
" Well now Designer Lady, you have got yourself a near perfect driving record, you ain't had a ticket for as far back as our data base goes, and your insurance has been with the same company for like 30 years with reductions not increases. "
I didn't say a word.
" Would you be interested in knowing you have earned yourself a $440.00 ticket and a mess of points on your license while you was concentrating"?
I didn't say a word but I did experience one of those whole body winces and I think my head drooped past my chest.
Trooper took the sunglasses off again and tipped his hat back on his head while looking at me hard. Then he slapped the side of the car door and said,
" Well, I am not writing you a ticket, and you are not getting any points on your license. But I am telling you I travel this road more than you do and I will be keeping an eye out for you and if you get to concentrating too hard again I will give you the biggest ticket possible. Have you got that"?
I nodded in the affirmative.
He took a few steps away and then returned to the window.
" Listen. I am going on my lunch break here shortly. Would you be interested in joining me?
This isn't a trade deal here, I am just mighty curious about how a person can be concentrating or designing or creative problem solving and so on while driving like Jimmie Johnson on a public highway".
I passed on his offer but he is still curious cause I see him behind me all the time and he now patrols the street in front of my office like a shark circling for his next meal. I am wondering if
instead of a ticket, I got a stalker. I am undecided if I "talked" my way out of a ticket.
Later on in the Troll poll there was a question about having killed an animal without a gun.
Well, I am kinda on the page of if you pay someone to euthanize a much beloved animal, you have in fact, organized a death . Fate has assigned this mission to me a couple of times in my life. Truth is I do not struggle over the decision for my oh so wonderful yellow lab. There never has been a better dog in my life and I will always love her. I grieve still for her companionship
most seriously but I did not grieve over my decision. We knew she was ill and we did all that could be done. The day before her death she had a great day chasing a cheeky squirrel up the drive and coming back with a big grin and a tail high as a sail. She was a proud, happy dog.
The next morning, things had radically changed. So abruptly it was a horrible shock but there was no doubt immense suffering had commenced and could not be reversed. I am, to this day, grateful I was home to witness what was to be her last squirrel chase. I was not there with her at the end, Blowfish took her in the truck and I never saw her again. But the decision was mine. I own that decision, good or bad.
A couple of weeks ago, I nearly killed someone else's beloved dog with my car. This time I was actually traveling below the posted speed limit. I was on a twisty, curvy, hill and dale two lane country road. These roads do not have shoulders, so if you let a wheel slip away from the asphalt you just keep on slipping , or end over ending, down into a gully or ravine or creek.
" Over correcting" on these roads is a main cause of teen deaths in the region. My "work truck" is a quick and very responsive mid size SUV. And, because I take it onto construction sites, it has a higher ground clearance than most but without compromising stability. As I came around a sharpish curve in the two lane, I saw a dog bolt out of a driveway gate, leaving in his dust a girl on an ATV. That little fellow was really fast so there was no time to think, and barely time to react. In these types of circumstances I think brains speed up to meet the demand of nano second timing. I never applied the brakes, I jinked the wheels slightly at what I hoped was the pivotal nano in hopes that no wheel would impact this pup but that the higher than normal undercarriage would straddle him. I heard, and felt, a dreadful thump mid chassis, then checked the rear view mirror as I started to brake. The pup was up and running across a green field. I found the nearest place to safely turn around and headed back. At first I did not find them, but eventually I rode up what looked like a dirt driveway and saw the ATV and the girl bent over her dog. As I approached I started talking saying how sorry I was and that I did my best to not hit him with a wheel and what could I do to help? The "girl" was a grown woman , maybe in her early 30's and tough as nails.
" It wasn't your doing, the dog was in the road. Roads are for cars, not dogs"
The pup was alert, breathing pretty well but panting, not whimpering, bright eyed and curious. I didn't see any twisted limbs or much bleeding. He did have a triangle flesh wound in the center of his chest, but it looked like peeled skin not a deep thru the muscle trauma.
" Can I help you get your dog to a vet"?
" No, I already called him, he's a horse vet but he does all my animals. But, I can't get Spotter here up to the barn on this ATV so can you maybe give him a ride"?
We lifted Spotter, who looks like a cross between a small spaniel breed and maybe a blue tick hound into the back of the SUV for the trip up to the barn. He started to whimper but I couldn't tell if it was from injury or separation from his human. At the barn a stiff legged Dalmation came over to investigate. He walks kinda sideways like a crab.
" That one there his been hit on that road 4 times, broken legs, broken pelvis, broken vertebrae, you think he would learn to stay the hell out of the road."
I was speechless while we removed Spotter from the back of the SUV. He was quiet, breathing a little harder and his eyes were getting sort of cloudy looking. Oh no! I was thinking about internal injuries, a punctured lung, maybe a ruptured diaphragm.
" Do you think the vet will come soon"?, I asked.
" Yeah he was only a couple of farms away, so he will be here directly as he can. Listen, you don't have to hang around, I expect you have somewhere you were meaning to be. You did a real fine job of keeping the wheels offa him and it's a good thing you didn't panic and go down the ravine or you would have been more hurt than this dog."
To tell you the truth, I think I was far more upset than "Kelly". If she felt any strong emotions about seeing her dog get run over before her eyes not a shred of it showed. I didn't really know what to do. Go or stay. So I heaved in some air and said,
" Kelly, are you really as calm as you appear? Is there anything I can do, even just wait here with you til the vet comes or call someone for you"?
She was slowly stroking her dog but looked up and said,
" Well, if you believe in such things you could say a prayer. Spotter here is the best dog I ever had and I can't believe how much he means to me. My four year old will be broken hearted over this and well, just see if praying helps any."
So I left.
Went through my day, honored all my commitments , and worried about Spotter. Worried about the heart of a four year old child. Worried about a Mom trying to find the words to tell the four year old about Spotters day. And I prayed. I prayed for Spotter, for Kelly, for a skilled vet, for an unknown child, and I prayed for me too.
At the end of the day I drove another 20 miles back to the curve in the road to find out about Spotter. The vet said he had been "tumbled" by the undercarriage. He was bruised, shaken, had that skin flap on his chest stitched up. Kelly had an old Mustang parked up at the barn with Spotter in the front seat with the air conditioning keeping him cool.
" Going to be fine, nothing broken ", Kelly said with a smile.
" Vet said to keep him still for 2 weeks, keep him comfortable, watch for a few maybes.
It's hot up here and the barn cats bother him, so we made him a good cool place in that old 'stang."
I offered to help with the vet bill. She declined the offer. Just as I was saying my good byes a tiny girl in barn dirty clothes , oversized muck boots, fly away hair and a big smile came running out of the barn.
"Hey"! she hollered, " are you the lady who saved Spotter from the wheel"?
I paused long enough for Kelly to step in and confirm her daughters guess.
That child rushed to hug my leg and say ,
" Thank you for not killing Spotter,
I love him the most in the whole world.
Except for my pony."
I hugged her back, said my good byes and cried all the way home.
I was so damn grateful to have not run over the heart of a child.