Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Deer Fear

My job selling products on air at QVC often has me driving in the middle of the night. At 3 am, it’s dark and deserted, and I’m scared. Not of drunk drivers, limited night vision, falling asleep at the wheel, or abduction by aliens. (As a salesperson I can just gab nonstop until they shove me right back out of the spaceship.)

No, what I fear are deer. The deer, I fear, are way too near. Everyone who drives around here has seen Bambi and friends hovering roadside. Lately though it's been Deerapalooza. Recently I spotted a family of venison-waiting-to-happen in the opposing lane. As I approached, the littlest member started trotting into, not out of, my path. Later a huge doe crossed the highway mere seconds before I intersected with its path. First I wondered why I spend so much on gas when I could just jump on one of these animals and yell “Giddy-up.” Next I pondered my abject terror of airbags. If you’re small like me (I’m 98 pounds even after eating dinner for six), airbags can really do a number on you. So can a 400-pound beast crashing through your windshield and ending up in your passenger seat. I don't think I'd like that, as much as I'd appreciate finally being able to drive in the HOV lane.

So I drive ridiculously slowly through deer country. The only thing lighting up the night more than the moon is its reflection off my white knuckles. I hold my breath if I so much as change radio stations, for fear that taking my hands off the wheel for even a second will make it harder to swerve if needed. It’s not the kind of anxiety that it’s good to put yourself through right before trying to appear relaxed on live TV, but the alternative is going on air wearing a deer stole as a body cast. I'm not feeling this would help sales.

I fully recognize that we humans took over the deer's habitat, and are now annoyed that they're in our way. I temper my aggravation with this thought, and with another: Deer might be more likely to save my life than to endanger it. I say this because I used to drive like a maniac. Though I never had an accident, I was playing Russian Roulette. Now, since being afraid to speed, I've slowed down in deer-populated areas – and everywhere else. And driving slower helps slow me down in other ways. I usually move my body too fast, resulting in the breakage of a lot of stuff, including my own skin. I also let my mind move too fast, resulting in the constantly racing, over-thinking, chaotic assemblage of neurons that I must sadly rely on as a brain.

Since lots of people need help slowing down, maybe what the roads need are more deer, not fewer. Imagine that all your drives were scenic, ten-mile-per-hour meanderings through a safari-like terrain peppered with prancing deer. Neither man nor beast would ever get hurt. The entire speed of life would decelerate, giving us all time to pay attention to the things that really matter, thereby cultivating a more peaceful world where all beings could live in loving harmony.

Yeah, I know. My dreams for the planet give new meaning to the expression "deer in the headlights." I guess I'm more like these animals than I think. Whether I'm on the road or just sharing my crazy philosophies, so many people seem to just flash their brights and drive around me.