Wednesday, January 13, 2010
Vignette: Turtle Diary
Delray Beach, FL, December 2009
The scene: I'm taking a drive with my uncle and we're on our way to Deerfield to pick up some coffee. I've harangued him into giving me the keys to his Prius, and before long we find ourselves cruising down the main road that bisects the town.
I'm getting a fast lesson in hypermiling techniques (verdict: everyone needs to give it a try. It's intoxicatingly fun, but I digress) when I spot a lump in the middle of the center lane. A rock, I think. I'm in fairly dense traffic, so there's no way I'm going to avoid it. I gingerly line up the car to put said lump right down the centerline and hold my breath as I roll over it. Nothing. A quick check in the rear view confirms I didn't hit it.
But as it shrinks behind us, I notice something sticking out. It's no rock. It's a turtle!
I ask my uncle if I can pull over and try to get the poor thing off the road. I'm a sucker for any living thing, and I'd be ticked with myself if I could have at least tried. He graciously allows me to pull an A-Team maneuver, and I deftly cut across two lanes, in front of one flabbergasted septuagenarian, before quickly finding a parking spot in front of an adjacent big box store.
I don't have much of a plan as I bolt from the car. A logical voice deep in my head tells me that running headlong into three-plus lanes of high-speed traffic isn't such a great idea. But the rose-colored-glasses optimist in me overrules the first voice, and I convince myself that everyone will instantly know what I'm up to, and will stop their cars to help.
I spot the turtle from afar and it looks intact. By some stroke of fate, there's a huge break in traffic, so I skip into the middle lane and run full-out, northbound in the southbound lanes. As I approach the turtle, the cars are getting bigger, so I stand with my arms out, exaggerating my moves like Jim Carrey in The Truman Show (best movie ever, no?) Sure enough, everyone slows down - probably to watch the moron with a turtle fetish get himself killed - and gives me ample room to scoop the shelled being up and run for the nearby canal.
Which is exactly what I do. I'm too fired up on adrenalin by this point to even realize how heavily I'm breathing. I look for the furthest possible point from the road and gingerly set the hefty reptilian munchkin down. He (she?) is buried deep in the shell, likely scared beyond belief. I try to say whatever soothing words I can before I head back to the car.
Turtles being what they are, I have no guarantee that this one didn't head right back for the road by lunchtime. But for a few minutes that morning, it felt like I was making some small difference. As we got back on our way, I decided that would have to be good enough for now.