Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The Legend of Suicide Squirrel

Once upon a time, when I was in outside sales in Michigan, I had an appointment in a little town out in the middle of nowhere.  I'd never been there before so I looked at a map and took what I thought would be the most direct route.  And it really did take me through some pretty country.  Pretty, but lonely - which I am totally cool with.

Anyway, there I am, driving down this straight highway with no one else around when I see ahead in the distance at the top of a small rise, a squirrel sitting on his hind legs staring across the road.  I remember thinking that at some point as I got closer, he would run across the highway or run back into the ditch.  He didn't.  He just kept sitting there, looking east in the perfect squirrel pose. 

When I approached the point where he couldn't run across the highway without getting flat, I still figured he'd save himself. 

As my front tires passed him, and I could no longer see him, I assumed he'd skittered off.  I mean, squirrels have a healthy sense of self-preservation... Or so I thought.

Until then my back passenger tire made a soft thud.

In the rearview, I saw him laying on the side of the road - not moving.  Mr. Squirrel had indeed committed suicide by car.

I can only assume he decided enough was enough.  He'd had it with a life of gathering nuts and hiding them only to discover he could never find them again.  He'd reached a point where he couldn't stand one more day of endless running around, eating acorns, and chasing other squirrels.  As he stood there beside the road, I wonder if he was thinking 'the very next car that comes by, I'm ending it', and I just happened to be the next car. 

I felt really really bad about hitting that squirrel that day.  Since then, I've come to terms with it.  In the end, there really wasn't anything I could do.  I couldn't swerve because he wasn't in the road until the middle of my car.  There was no way to anticipate he would do that.  One cannot discern the mindset of a normal squirrel on any given day, let alone a suicidal squirrel on a gray Monday morning. 

Fear not, Suicide Squirrel.  You will live on in my memory.  Enjoy your eternity in the big oak tree in the sky.

I just wish you hadn't been such a little asshole and picked my car to run under.  Seriously, I felt really bad about it.