Saturday, November 29, 2008
Killing Birds Without Stones
So I was driving down 395 yesterday, happily singing Christmas music along with the radio, when I saw a bird nearing the right side of my car. Birds fly by all the time, but in a split second I saw that this bird was too close. There was little I could do, driving on the highway, over a bridge in the right hand lane.
And SPLAT, it made contact. And for another fraction of a second I thought it would just fall off of the car, making for an unpleasant, but brief encounter. As is often the case, I was wrong.
I realized that this bird had not just hit my windshield; it had become impaled on the antenna.
And I watched it die.
By now, I had left the bridge. I was in a middle lane with cars on either side. And I cannot really begin to describe just how awful it was. I had to keep driving as the impaled bird tried to free itself. It's head jutted against the windshield and I had to do all I could to hold myself together.
When I did leave the highway, I called the friend I was coming into town to meet and asked if he'd help me remove the bird. By now, it had given up.
I was near the National Mall and parking was hard to find. I saw a woman getting ready to leave a space and I hovered near. She kept pointing and gesturing. I, in turn, gestured to indicate that I was aware of the dying/dead bird impaled on my car. I still needed a parking space, however. Then I feared that some animal rights fanatic would vandalize my car before I was able to get my friend to help me remove the bird.
"I really just should have taken metro," I said at one point.
Later, my sometimes-atheist, sometimes-Buddhist friend said this was God's way of telling me that I should have taken metro.
And suddenly, I was irritated. "How do you know what God is saying?" I asked. "You don't even believe in God."
But later, as he removed the bird, he remarked on the odds that a bird would impale itself on an antenna in that fashion. Being a mathematician, he noted that the bird had to have been flying at just the right angle, etc., etc. "That's very rare."
And for me that was it: I was traumatized by the entire incident, but perhaps the point of it all was that the rare and impossible does happen.
Earlier, I had been talking about a rather upsetting situation that seems to have no solution. But, hey, if a bird can impale itself on my car antenna, who is to say what else can happen? Of course, I am hoping for more pleasant rarities and not traumatic ones.
Still, I am very sorry that the poor bird had to suffer like that. My friend, however, was fascinated by this gruesome death.
"Don't you care about the sanctity of life?" I asked.
He mulled it over and said yeah, he cared, but that it was still cool to see a bird impaled on a car antenna.
And yes, I took a picture of it because if I get nothing else out of all the random things that happen, I get a story.