By Louie de Palma
Reader Road Warrior
People who have survived near-death experiences commonly report seeing a bright light. I can’t verify that myself. From my memory of my last near-death experience, I only recall seeing the murky darkness at the bottom of the lake. I can tell you, however, that a bright light is the last thing that more than a few animals see before they are taken to the River Styx—a brilliant light that reads “taxi.”
I didn’t sign up to be a dealer of nighttime animal death. No one wants to be the Grim Taxi Reaper. Plus, I can’t take you all the way to the underworld because the meter would charge too much and critters don’t carry cash (for the record, we don’t accept nuts, berries or bugs as payment. On the other hand, I have accepted jam and it was delicious). It’s just another part of the job that comes with driving all the time. I imagine truckers have it worse.
But a cabbie never shirks responsibility. It’s just one more danger out there to deal with in addition to the twisting roads, spazmatic weather, cliffs and drunk drivers. It ain’t no thing but a chicken wing once you know how to handle it. Well, usually it’s a bat, turkey or grouse wing, but it’s still just a thing.
Here’s what I’ve learned so far. First and foremost, never swerve when you’re about to hit an animal—brake if you can safely do so and try to stop before impact. It’s your best bet unless it’s a whole herd of deer and there’s a gap in the middle you can shoot like you’re Dale Earnhardt. That only worked for me once though, and I wouldn’t recommend it. By the way, deer are everywhere around here, so try to resist looking when someone points one out. Just believe them.
Then there are the bears. Never get out and check on a bear after you hit it. They are very independent beasts and get embarrassed if people help them. Then they get really angry. Also, bears are terribly dyslexic when it comes to rights and lefts, so using your blinker to pass them almost always ends in impact.
Skunks and bats love intentionally screwing with the taxi, so much so that they’ll end up committing suicide over it. Skunk equals funk, and that funk becomes really awkward when you pick someone up in an Idaho cab at the Spokane airport. Explain that you hit a skunk all you want, but they just smirk in a way that says, “Well, somebody likes visiting Washington.”
If you ever find yourself in a cab that hits an animal, here’s how you should proceed. Absolutely never ever scream, cry, pray and rock back and forth at the same time. I have had this happen entirely too much, and it is just confusing and completely unhelpful. Plus, it frightens me into thinking you might be a witch and are casting some sort of modern stealthy sacrifice spell. Just remain calm and think of what cut you want from the roadkill.
Yes, you read that right. Idaho changed its roadkill salvage laws, allowing you to bring home animals that you hit and makes delicious use of them. It’s our personal policy that we will give you the first pick due to the inconvenience. If there is more than one passenger, everyone pulls on leg and you just get what you come away with. The head always goes to the house. Oh, and of course, we turn the time off on the meter while this is all decided.
It’s a bummer killing animals on the road, and I truly hope it never happens again. I like to think they were all really unhappy and suicidal and are in better places now, just chilling and staying cool in someone’s freezer. We firmly support fresh free-range, woods-to-mouth humane eating.
As far as death goes, I’m not sure if people really do see a light at the end. But if you do and it reads “taxi,” I promise we won’t eat you. However, the animals might. Fair is fair.