During my childhood summers at my uncle’s Wisconsin farm, I was terrorized by a goose he’d named Ollie. Ollie would stalk me throughout the day, mentally mapping my coordinates in order to steal the stickybuns and bear claws right out of my hands. His attempts were very well-planned and they all resulted in me losing my delicious treats and running away in tears. One time, I hadn’t even been able to make it off the front porch steps before that little heathen surprised me from around the corner of the house. All it took was a hiss and a honk and I knew Ollie would be charging me like he was practicing for the running of the bulls in Pamplona.
Nowadays, I’m bombarded by geese at my office building. These things are everywhere. Sometimes they stand right next to my car or right by the front door entrance of the building and when I try to walk past them, it’s hiss! and honk! and I wish I had a pastry in my hand so I could throw it at their stupid little heads and at least feel good about getting a decent whack at them before they charge at me and knock me down and tear out my innards with their…well, they don’t have claws or any other appendages that are remotely stabby, but geese are evil creatures. I’m sure they’ve gouged out a human’s eyeballs before.
With that being said, I don’t necessarily hate them. I mean, that’s not entirely true. Geese are vicious and annoying and they poop way too much. You’d think they could be trained to go in the grass or something, like dogs do, but geese seem to be perfectly happy to crap wherever they damn well please, which, coincidentally, is often right next to my car or right by the front door entrance to my building.
But my heartstrings were tugged at this afternoon when a man I had just met on our building’s lakeside deck started asking me about the really big birds we have on campus.
He was obviously from out of town because he didn’t even know that those really big birds were geese. The man reacted to this news as though he’d just discovered an entirely new species and was extremely surprised to learn that juvenile geese, as big and capable-looking as they might seem, do not, in fact, fly away when being approached by a moving vehicle.
His moving vehicle, by the way.
I almost joked and said, “Yay! One less goosecrap machine for me to worry about! And juvenile geese are weighed down by their ugliness so that’s why they can’t fly! Ha!” but I didn’t. Because it was totally not funny. Plowing down any animal with your car is totally not funny.
What I did end up saying was, “Dude! You freakin’ ran over a goose? Who runs over a goose?”
What I wanted to say was, “You, sir, are a freakin’ MORON.”
The man proceeded to tell me how he ran the goose over but he didn’t stop because he was embarrassed and late for his appointment on campus. I actually kind of felt bad for him. He was really sincere as he continued to explain to me how awful he felt but he just didn’t know what to do, who to call, how to remedy the situation. So he drove away and went to his meeting.
He did, however, see some university police and groundskeepers handling the injured goose while he was on his way over to my building. The goose was still able to move at least one of its wings so there is hope that a rehab facility could help the bird go on with a normal life. The man seemed to relax a bit when I spewed out the little nugget of information, even though I totally made it up.
“Let me ask you, miss. You ever run over an animal? Do you know what it’s like to feel like you’ve killed an animal?”
Damn, dude – do we have to go there? Because the answer is yes. Yes, I do know what it’s like to know I’ve killed an animal.
When I first moved to Florida from suburban D.C., I had to get myself accustomed to slow drivers and two-lane roads. During one of my more ambitious moves in the vehicle passing lane, my eyes spotted a blob in the road that I could not avoid. I thought it was a trash bag or a piece of shredded tire from an 18-wheeler. As I passed the slower car and caught a better view of the blob, I realized what it was.
It was too late for me to swerve to miss it and too late to move back over into my lane to avoid running it over.
I, ladies and gentlemen, squashed the hell out of a gopher tortoise with my wildlife-killing machine of a car. I snuffed the life out of a member of an endangered species.
An ENDANGERED SPECIES, people! I still feel awful about it (sad face).
Have you ever run over an animal in the road?