Yes, friends. The title says it all. Why is this night different from other nights? Because it’s Passover and on the drive home from a lovely Seder dinner, I almost hit a goddamn coyote.
I was behind the wheel, driving down the Saw Mill Parkway at around 9:30pm, going the speed limit with my husband, sister-in-law and her fiancé. This road is poorly lit on a good day and the stretch of road we were traveling on had no lights for the most part and a speed limit of 50. It’s a twisty road as well, so driving with caution is always a good idea. I’ve always prided myself on my killer night vision and tonight it saved the life of a very scared coyote and spared the rest of us minor injuries.
I saw something far down the road scurry across through the darkness and my brain yelled to me, “Slow down! Object ahead!” My brain gets right to the point. My headlights hadn’t even got to it at that point, but when they did I started a controlled brake. I think I said “Oh shit” but to me, everything got quiet and I was super-focused on the object ahead of me. My brain was already running through things I’ve been told:
- Mom – if it’s a deer, brake or turn. Something that big can wreck the car and really hurt you
- Dad – use the shoulder if you have to. If you’re going too fast and it’s small, keep going.
- PETA, HSUS, ASPCA, etc.. – coyotes are living things. They do not pose an immediate threat to humans. Do not engage. Do not kill!
- Me – I brake for animals. Please don’t be a cat!
So my brain does the calculations for me at light speed, which as a dyslexic, was pretty freaking awesome and correct. I kept applying pressure to the brake, first slowly, then harder until I was maybe 5 inches from the animal as it hauled ass across the front of the car. Thankfully, no one was behind me. That would have been a disaster. Everyone was buckled up and because it was a controlled brake, no one got whiplash and the coyote vanished into the tree line. I would have felt terrible if I hurt it, and worse if I killed it. It all happened so fast, and there really wasn’t anywhere to pull over and catch my breath, so I just kept driving, super concentrating on the roads and watching the sidelines with frequent glances, as was everyone else in the car.
My focus was able to split back into the normal multitasker that it usually is after a few minutes and I realized that my passengers were talking about what just happened. The different reactions upon realizing that there was a coyote in the road were priceless.
- Hubby – what the—OH SHIT?!
- Sis Fiancé – is that-OH SHIT!
- Sis in law – shit. –braces for impact and thinks this is how it ends. Damnit–
Can I just say I love my family? Because I do. The fiancé said flat out, “If you had hit that, there’s no way we were going to let you stop.” Which is totally fair and valid, but let me tell you, I would have had a hard time with that. At the very least, I would have insisted on calling the ASPCA or the local police. The irrational part of me still wants to go in the woods, find it, bring it home, and give it chicken soup because I’m a crazy tree hugger and I still feel bad that the poor thing had such a close brush with death. Luckily, the other parts of my personality screamed in my mind, “are you stupid????”
Yes. Sometimes. But not today.
I get that there are a lot of people who want coyotes dead or relocated or whatever, but my feeling is, it is a living, breathing thing. I can’t get upset over a coyote acting like a predator because that’s its nature. It’s like getting pissed at the rain for being wet. By the same token, if a bear was chewing on my leg, I wouldn’t pass him the ketchup. Let’s not get crazy here. (editor’s note: leg goes better with A1)
The night ended with everyone safe at home, the coyote still alive and in the woods, and me with a cup of tea and my cat as I write this. First chickens, now coyotes. I wonder what else is going to get in front my car without being aware of its surroundings.