Was it a squirrel?

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I always find it interesting at car accident scenes when someone says, “An animal ran out in front of me.”

I know it can happen, but I’m always skeptical when it’s a single vehicle crash into a parked car or an object like a pole.

The other night I responded to a traffic collision where a parked car was sideswiped. The witness saw the driver texting as he drifted onto the wrong side of the road and crash.

The driver, who was 20 years old, was nervous and fumbling with his phone while he tried calling his mother. He was stressed and having a hard time focusing when I asked him what happened.

He said, “An animal ran out in front of me.”

Ah, the phantom animal. They, like the phantom car, have caused many collisions in my career.

“What kind of animal was it?” I asked.

That question always confuses people and it’s funny to watch them figure out the randomness.

Random is the name of the game to having fun on this job. That’s when I asked, “Was it a squirrel?”

The look on his face was priceless. With raised eyebrows, I could tell the driver was wondering why I asked about a squirrel in a suburban neighborhood. “No, it was small,” he replied.

“Are you sure it wasn’t a squirrel?” I asked again.

“No, it was a rodent.”

“Is it possible it was a squirrel?”

After each squirrel question he got more confused by the minute. I finally stopped and told him what the witness saw. With a deep breath of defeat, the driver confessed there wasn’t an animal. Not even a squirrel.

“If there was an animal, what would it be?” I asked.

With an unsure tone he said, “A stray cat?”

“A shaved cat?”

“No, a stray cat.”

The randomness of night shift……