Thursday, August 31, 2006

Vanpool Update: Bawls, Skunks and Apologies

You read the previous post. If you haven't, give it a run. Then you will understand my frame of mind. It is about roadkill. It is all about lessons learned.

I used to be a maniac with vermin on the road. Back when I was about 19, I was driving my work truck and I had Scotty Meades rolling shotgun with me. We were coming home from a party. Suddenly, I saw a possum on the side of the road, shambling her way wherever the hell possums go. I remember looking at Scotty and telling him to hang on.

I revved the '67 Chevy pickup in the direction of the possum. I hit her. I rolled forward on her. I hit reverse and rolled back on her to check the kill. It was late, the headlights had to do the explaining. She was still flopping in the road.

"You an evil child!" Scotty kept on saying in his New Orleans accent. He was thoroughly grossed out. I had to roll up on it again. Back and forth, back and forth. Texas farm roads are safe for this kind of behavior.

Then I felt the skull pop under the wheels.

She was done. I pulled back to check the kill with the headlights. She was a bloody pulp in the road. But there was something else...all over the road. It looked like pieces of wet Kleenex. Pieces of wet moving Kleenex...moving. I slapped the thing in park and hopped out. Understand that Scotty was howling now, completely disturbed by my behavior. At this point, I was all about the morbid curiosity. What I saw next will torment me for the rest of my life. I have no respect for possum. I think that they are ugly, vicious creatures that need to stay out of my way. If I have my pellet gun I will shoot one around my house ON SIGHT. I don't need my kids getting mixed up with those disease infested creatures.

That being said, my victim didn't deserve what I did. I keep on saying that the possum was a "she". I know that she was a she because she spontaneously aborted her litter as I had rolled back and forth over her mangy carcass. The possum embryo were all over the road.

I was sick. My lesson learned is that I will never "rush an animal" with a moving vehicle again. Of course, I have been rushed by living animals since that point in time, but those instances were not my fault, nor do they need to be recorded at this time.

So, you have read my previous blog, about the dog that I saw get smoked. I have had roadkill on my mind. So much so that I have been toying with hitting "already smoked" animals in my lane when I am driving the vanpool. There is a skunk that I have driven over about four times in the past week that is in my lane. I tell the riders to brace themselves, and I roll over it. The thing is pretty flat, and I have yet to detect the bump. The thing is merely this black fur with the Pepe lePew stripe. But I have been looking for bigger targets.

A raccoon was on the side of the road last week, but it was bloated to something close to the size of a furry beachball, and I wasn't going to risk the splatter. There was another possum on the side of the road, but he was too far into the shoulder to hit. There were a few kittens on the center line, but for some reason, I can't roll over a cat. I guess I can't tag a cat because they seem intelligent and useful in some way. Have you ever seen a cat after impact? Those things flop like there is no tomorrow.

*digression*
Jim Shaw used to tell this story about a man driving down the road. He hits a cat. He wheels over to the side and gets out, with his tire iron. He sees a cat wheeling around in front of his vehicle and he bashes it to death, putting it out of its misery. Then the man gets back into his car and drives to his destination. When he gets out of his car at his destination, he walks away from his car. He looks back and sees a cat plastered to his car grill.

I love that story. What the hell did that other cat do that made this guy think that he was doing it a favor by finishing it off with a tire iron? It must have just woken up from a nap or something.
*end of digression*

So, this morning, I am driving to work. I have 6 people in the van with me. We are booting through Fort Ord. I haven't had my Steve Bawls persona online of late, but it is there, lemme tell you. Then I saw it. On the center line, there was a dead skunk. The traffic in the oncoming lane was clear. I went over rather violently and hit that skunk again. Oh I was laughing. The stuff was funny to me. It was funny to gauge the reactions of the people in the vanpool. They were all disgusted. I had won the round and it was barely 8 in the morning. Then the smell started.

Apparently, as I lumped my way over that carcass (oh, it was a speedbump alright, think: misshapen football) I musta popped the stinkbag. The thing sprayed its last spray. The van stunk. They were all holding their noses.

"What you did was wrong!" One of the women yelled at me.
"This is NOT a moral issue!" I yelled back, through tears of laughter.

Oh my God I was giggling. It was hilarious. All of the women were disgusted and holding their noses at the same time. There was a male on board who was attempting to reprimand me. I just couldn't accept it. Any male should have been able to recognize the humor in what I had done. I placed the argument out there that I was helping with the decomposition of the animal...to no fanfare whatsoever. We rolled the windows down to kill the stink. That wasn't working either. That skunk must have sprayed us good.

When we got to work, everyone was quiet. I choked out a giggly "sorry" but it wasn't good enough. They just went into work and left me, the skunk corpse molester to my own devices.

I went in. I mentioned it to the drivers of the Santa Cruz van. I told them that my riders now hate me. Those guys thought it was funny. They also suggested that we start listening to Bottecelli while we ride. Bottecelli gets no play in the Salinas Vanpool, period. She Wants Revenge is what I have been playing. Mostly because the stuff is smooth, and my riders have no idea what is actually being said, but the lyrics are hard. I tried to bust out with the new Slayer, but that album sucks.

I mentioned it to the Hollister vanpool driver. I asked her if I owed my crew an apology. She told me yes. I stewed on that for a bit. I have a lot of respect for that woman.

I went to my desk and googled a picture of a cute skunk up. I emailed it to a few people on my vanpool with the caption, "Vanpool Issues". When they opened the email, all they would see was the picture. I went to work on my project, half expecting to hear back from them....nothing.

At the end of the day, I formally apologized to my riders. I really did. I didn't want to offend anyone, and I continued profusely apologizing. I said that I thought that the stuff was hilarious, but I really didn't want to offend. Apparently the damage was as follows:

1) A woman who rides with us went into the office and vomited. In my own brain (and here on the blog) I think that is fucking awesome, but I will never verbalize such a thing to her.

2) My co-pilot had half of his day ruined by the incident. He feels that disrespecting a dead body is completely wrong. I went at him on religion. Was this a religious issue with him? NO. I went at him with vegetarianism. Was he offended by my disrespect of a piece of meat on the side of the road? NO. He did slip up and tell me that to torture a dead body is worse than torturing a living body.

YOU KNOW I HAD TO OWN HIM ON THAT ONE.

"So if I pour gasoline on a dead body and light a match, that is worse than if I pour gasoline on a live body and light a match?"

The conversation swerved all over. I left it all at Gloria's feet. I have mentioned Gloria to you before. If there is a woman on that vanpool that I respect, it is Gloria. If I was about 20 years older, I would be ALL OVER THAT WOMAN'S CASE. Gloria is just some old-school class. I told her publicly that if she were to tell me not to run over any roadkill again, I would do it for her.

"Don't drive over anything dead...or alive for that matter." This was what I got out of her. The people in the vanpool laughed, and I took her words to heart.

Case closed. Lesson learned. I will just stay on the road from now on, and get from point A to point B. It took that possum spontaneously aborting her litter for me to learn my first lesson, which is to leave living critters alone when driving. It took a smelly-ass skunk to teach me lesson number two.

I'm good, mang. I'm good.