Damn and blast

Rolled a deer the other night. At that very duskiest time of dusk, where the headlights still have no real darkness to cut through, yet all the world is fading to blue and the eyes begin to lose contrast.

This is not the first deer that has fallen to the Ottinger fleet. Oh, no, there have been many. This particular deer joins the rank of at least two others, and one airborne turkey, who set their sights on my vehicle on road the home from church alone. If we expand our vision past the sacramental journey to and from the pew in the north, if we open our eyes wide enough to include Scott in the list of folks behind the wheel, and if we open up the list of roadkill to other species taken out by our familial fleet (though deer rank high), we are easily out into the double digits of doom.

This is not the deer. Don’t be silly. But this is how the under-the-feeder crowd looks at me after seeing the tufts of their cousin’s hair in my bumper.

All this is to say that I’m not a stranger to that moment of panic that surges in when the beasts of the forest creep forth into the immediate cone of my forward trajectory. It’s not that different from the feeling you get when you’re about to T-bone someone, or you’re staring down someone else’s grill in the split second before they T-bone you. The difference is in the moment after impact, when you register that what’s happened was not life-threatening, that you have not been crushed, that you are still moving forward at a respectable clip (weren’t you just standing on your brakes?), and that you likely will not end your day in a hospital, or on a good day, even your chiropractor’s office. You dodged a bullet, for it was only a deer (poor deer) or a coon (serves you right, chicken-killer) or a turkey (have you not wings?). You generally just keep driving, content to assess the inverted bumper or the cracked headlight when you get home. Bow your head for the beast, and keep on truckin’.

Now this is obviously not always the case. I once hit a white-tail on a 5am Iowa highway going 75 miles an hour (me, not the deer, though I think he was close). This was a different experience altogether, as both front windows of my Escort imploded on impact and I was covered in flying glass and blood. And I once saw a woman who took a turkey to the windshield that provided substantial enough impact as to spiderweb the whole of the screen, blow all the airbags, and render the vehicle (and driver) quite out of commission. I’ve heard tale of folks who’ve met with bear, or even moose, where the vehicle solidly lost the battle. But in general, when you’re speaking of deer and smaller, and have enough visual warning and presence of mind to absorb much of the shock with your brake pedal, your life isn’t altered too terribly much.

Anyway, so I rolled this deer. There was a whole herd of ‘em, migrating east over the highway and I was ready for them, already punching the brakes. Sadly, I wasn’t so ready, nor was the braking yet sufficient, for the one who left the pack and launched up out of the ditch a hundred feet to their north, directly in front of my steel-focused gaze. Bummer.

As I drove on, I thought what a coincidence it was that he likely popped the bumper inside-out in the exact same place as the one last fall, dimpling my driver’s corner anew, probably popping the side out of whack again. Hahaha, wasn’t that funny?

As dusk turned to dark, I could see that my headlight was a little askance. Ugh.

And as I pulled into the driveway and disinterred myself from the van with the headlights still on, to assess the damages, I noticed first an unpleasant catch in the door, and then some wispy plumes of steam rising from the general direction of the license plate. Deep breaths.

The story ends here. What with the involvement of a few too many parts, including the radiator, the van hath been totaled, and that by a deer that didn’t even have the decency to give me his insurance card.

The good news is that next week we were slated to replace the timing belt, that infuriating piece of regular maintenance that plagues Honda owners everywhere. I am thrilled I wrecked’er before dropping that cool grand, as it would have been an even crueller joke to then face down the $2-3K more it would take to put Humpty Dumpty back together again (that, for the record, is just Ottinger-style back together; drivable, just barely).

This was a $1700 vehicle, folks, acquired roaring like a dinosaur sans catalytic converter after someone else totaled the last Odyssey. Factor in 2.5 years of further depreciation, and by my math she’s worth about $500. She recently turned over 300,000 miles, like the monster she is. The soon-replaced timing belt was an act of faith, as we were pretty sure she had another hundred to give and would make good on the $1,000 injection.

Quadruple that, though… that’s a little harder to swallow.

And the scrapyard shall once again know our names.

Yeah, this has nothing to do with roadkill.
But look! Spring is coming!

If you need me, I shall be trolling Craigslist, or engaged in the resuscitation of the kid’s former Accord, parked conveniently in front of our shed. Rusty Rita is quite literally rusting in half at the frame (thank you Wisconsin), but she’s not likely to leave the back seat skittering down the road behind her quite yet, and it might be nice to hunt for the next member of the family casually, rather than in the customary state of wrath, mania, and desperation.

Now accepting applications,

Oh, while we’re at it, here’s The Holy FIT. She, in the same 48-hour period, got stuck in the teeth of a giant 2022 Chevy truck who was missing the chip that makes his back-up alarm work. What have we become?

Also, I suppose she got stuck more between the cheeks than the teeth, given the direction of travel. Semantics.

The Chevy, however, did give us his insurance card. And so it is that the FIT’s prognosis is much better than the van’s.

11 thoughts on “Damn and blast

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  1. You rolled a deer and kept driving? Clearly your deer are smaller than ours. When we hit one, stopping is required. Glad your okay, my sympathies on the death of your van. Had to laugh at the Holy Fit name… but damn. This has been a bad week for your automobiles.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Twinsies. A deer, clearly running with its eyes closed, plunged into the side of my car on the way home from voting a few days ago (I voted, not sure if the deer was wearing the same “I voted” sticker as me.) My cute, zippy car is totaled. See ya at the scrapyard..

    Liked by 1 person

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