Sunday, September 14, 2008

Deer in the headlights

It was a little after 12:30 a.m.

It had been a long day in the office, and I cranked up the volume on Marah's "Kids In Philly" to ensure sleep didn't take a premature hold as I drove. All I wanted to do was get home, because the alarm clock would be annoying me circa 6 a.m.

I was pleased that KIP was in the tape deck, because the radio offerings were poor. Phil Collins "Invisible Touch" was on, and I'm not ashamed to say that his tunes are a guilty pleasure. But for my energy purposes, it was the wrong song at the wrong time.

So I was about three songs into the tape, minding my own business, when I came around a gentle curve and saw two deer munching on grass about 10 feet off the left side of the road. Being alert and wide-eyed, thanks to Serge and the crew, I took proper precautions and began slowing down.

One of the deer glanced up at me ... and then inexplicably decided to charge the car.

The critter made a suicidal beeline for me. I locked up the brakes, but couldn't stop in time.

Proudly, my bumper punted the deer approximately 40 feet in front of the hood. The animal writhed around on the ground for a few seconds, but then stood up and galloped into a cornfield.

I remained parked in disbelief, reviewing a mental play by play of the deer sprawling out in front of the headlights. When I stepped out to check the damage, I caught a whiff of burnt rubber.

As you can see in the picture, the left side of the Jeep sustained some minor damage, but the bumper held firm. Nice job.

In all seriousness, I feel pretty lucky. A few more inches toward the center, and it might have taken out the entire front of the car. If I had nailed it at a higher speed, I might have gotten banged up as well.

But the luck wasn't all good. There's an unfortunate epilogue to this story.

The next morning, I went to the sheriff's office to file a report for insurance purposes. The process went smoothly, and I headed into work.

As it happens, the sheriff's office is about three blocks from the location where I punted the deer, so I passed the crime scene on my way. I was checking out the area, but no remnants of the collision remained.

I did not leave empty-handed, though. As soon as I looked up after inspecting the scene, I found red-and-blue flashing lights in my rear-view mirror. For a few seconds, I deluded myself into thinking that perhaps I forgot something at the sheriff's office and they were merely returning it.

This was not the case.

Police allege I was moving at 52 mph in a 35-mph zone, although all the signs posted in and around the area label it a 50-mph zone. The cop knocked the ticket down to an "impeding traffic" violation, which meant that I received no insurance points. So I didn't fight it, but I'm still peeved the lady didn't even know the lay or law of the land.

Overall, the final tally is dubious: Two traffic incidents. In the same spot on the same road. In a nine-hour span.

I think I'll start taking the bus. Or at least a new route to work.

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