This is where the party ends
I can't stand here listening to you
And your racist friend
I know politics bore you
But I feel like a hypocrite talking to you
And your racist friend
- They Might Be Giants
I had a charming and witty (in my opinion) post prepared in my head but the ride in to work today crushed the charm right out of me. First a story from my childhood though. I knew this guy in high school, Peter, and one day he told me the following story. He was riding a bus on the way home from work. The bus abruptly swerved to the left and right. Then there was a bad smell, a skunk had been hit and killed. The driver winked at Peter and said "I almost missed it!" I still remember the ugly smile on Peter's face as he shared this story. Mostly I remember that my only response was to nod. I didn't laugh, and I was not amused, but I did not call him out for an asshole either. I was a coward then but I've changed. I'll say what I think. So hey, Peter? You're an cretinous stunted individual and your sense of humor makes my gorge rise.
Today started off in the usual way. Breakfast for the kids, make lunches, read a book, Sparkle Pony walks to school and then load up Rapunzel for her Burley wagon ride in to school. We dropped her off and we all hugged good-bye and then we turned our bicycles towards work. The road here is very pleasant for a bicyclist. Part of it is blocked off. It is heavily residential and many children walk to school on this route. I am pedaling along talking to Contraption Captain. I automatically take note of the red (color of old blood) SUV that pulls out of a driveway and turns onto the road. I watch as it accelerates. I watch a small black squirrel that had started across the road before the SUV arrived run forward, run back, run in terror. I watch the squirrel dodge the front tires of the SUV and I watch it helplessly draw it's tail close to it's body just before the back wheels of the SUV crush it's spine.
I started screaming before the squirrel was killed and I continued to scream as the SUV drove away. I pedaled up to where it turned right. I shook my fist in it's direction and roared my unhappiness, a long low howl of hatred. Then I turned left and pedaled away but I had to stop at the side of the road to sob my ugly desperate hopeless sobs. Between sobs I told Contraption Captain "I hate them."
Maybe you think one squirrel doesn't matter. Lots of squirrels, right? I've heard squirrels referred to as "tree rats." I've heard pigeons referred to as "flying rats" and I guess actual rats are just ... rats. Humans don't like pigeons, rats, and squirrels. Is it because they're not beautiful? They are beautiful. The bay area squirrels are a deep midnight color. They build homes and raise families. They have soft feathery tails. Pigeons? Pigeons have iridescent necks. Pigeons are far more monogamous than humans and when their mate dies they mourn for at least thirty days. Rats are intelligent community minded mammals. If a mother rat dies and her children are left vulnerable, another mother will take over raising them. But these creatures are all vermin to the average human, apparently because these creatures are relatively common.
Newsflash. There are seven billion people these days. We are vermin. The roads I bicycle are streaked with rainbows of gasoline from our incontinent vehicles. We spoil the oceans and the forests and we pollute the air we breathe. Rabbits do not have large brains but they have learned what humans do not learn: rabbits never shit in their own homes.
I get in to work and make it to my morning meeting. Before it began I said to my manager that I was upset, I had seen a squirrel killed by a car. He was sympathetic (he's a great guy) and then his eyes widened as something occurred to him. "You were on your bicycle, that makes it so much worse. In a car you're kindof insulated from it."
Yes. A car insulates you from your trail of damage. I hate that about cars. I hate the way they wall themselves off from the horrors they wreak as they drive two miles to get a mocha grande skinny from Starbucks. I hate them and if you're in a car? I hate you too.
So what do I want? To that worthless sack of shit who drove that car too fast this morning and killed that squirrel. Stop your car. Get out. Kneel down by the side of the road. Press your cheek to the rough wet pavement. Watch that squirrel slowly gasp out it's life, it's feathery tail ruffling gently as it's broken back twitches. Watch the fear in it's eyes. Wonder if it had a family. Wonder if it's mate will wait long for her dead partner. Wonder why you could not drive a little more slowly on this very quiet residential road. Wonder what it means that you just killed an animal. Think and watch and wonder and beg forgiveness for your disgusting crime.
And one more thing. I'm not a native Californian and I'm not all that compassionate. I think of you as vermin. Also, I am very good with numbers. How good? Good enough to recite the ASN for thirty major networks. Good enough to remember the loopback addresses and host names for over two hundred routers. Definitely good enough to remember your license number and where you park your car. As a friend of mine used to say, "put that up your pipe and smoke it."