Lighting was ripping the sky apart and I wasn’t going out in it. No, I sat against the back wall of the loading dock next to the bike, waiting until the leading edge passed before I pushed out. I knew I was going to get wet – radar showed a hundred miles of rain.
Decided it was time to ride – lightning was far away but the rain was pouring down. Turned on the lights, checked that the saddlebags were sealed. Then I noticed a car stopped on in the street. A woman had exited it without an umbrella, into the rain, and was standing helplessly behind her car. And that’s when I saw the trail of feathers and the humped shape. She’d hit (and presumably killed) a duck.
There is a mated pair I see in our retention pound out back of our building; they walk across the patio when I’m quietly writing, quacking to each other as they waddle down to the pond for a swim. I hope to Christ it wasn’t one of them, that she hadn’t killed a creature another loved, that she’d caused so much pain because she was driving too fast, distracted, human.
JB and I have dealt with this before. Coming back from dinner on bikes, we found two ducks struck by a driver who didn’t stop. A scooter rider was just moving the second one out of the road. We called animal control and hoped they could come and perhaps take them to a vet. Stood there helplessly and watched one, then the other, slowly die. It was a terrible thing to have to do, and I cursed the driver who gave that duty to us.
So maybe I was weak but this woman, standing miserably in the rain, had brought this upon herself and she could deal with it. You drive a car, and maybe you crushed the body of one animal and the soul of another, no big deal. But it could have been a child, a pedestrian, a cyclist. Drive as if a life DOES depend on it.
Either you’ll feel like a horrible human being, or you’ll write it off as the loss of a dumb animal, and them you’ll BE a horrible human being.