Goose, a Badger and a Pigeon
By Rico Swafford
Last week I was driving on my way to Burlington and I accidentally ran over a possum who was crossing the road. I like animals for the most part, and I don’t necessarily go out of my way to kill them when they are in my way, but I was pretty neutral after running over this possum. They are creepy. If the devil lives somewhere on earth, its in the beady eyes of those creatures.
Mauling over this possum on the road didn’t ruin my day by any means. Hell it didn’t even ruin the moment. I could care less about a possum’s well-being or life in general. Afterwards though, I realized that by hitting that possum, it ended a streak of me hitting animals that you usually don’t see laying along the shoulder of the road.
When it comes to road kill in Iowa, usually you will see rabbits, raccoons, squirrels, deer, cats, skunks and possums on the shoulder of the road. In the past year, prior to hitting this possum, I had only hit 3 animals on the road, all of which you don‘t see ending up as road kill very often; a goose, a badger and a pigeon.
I was driving on my way home from work one day and was creeping my way outside of a microscopic little town called Letts, IA. I was about 200 meters outside of town when I noticed that about 10-15 meters in front of me there was a line of geese walking in a line across the road. When I saw this, I was like, “hmm, that’s one of the strangest things I’ve ever seen. A bunch of geese slowly crossing the road in a straight line.”
I went from being in a state of bewilderment of what was happening in front of me, to noticing that if I didn’t slam on the breaks quickly, I was going to run over one of these geese. They seemed to be in absolutely no hurry to get out of the way. In fact they seemed to be oblivious to the 1000 times their size automobile that was coming at them at 50 miles per hour. Swerving to the left or right of them was not an option due to the goose-line extending from one ditch to the other. If I was to swerve left, I would smash a goose. If I swerved to the right, I would smash a goose. If I kept driving straight, I would smash a goose. The only chance these geese had of survival would be if I immediately slammed the brakes and came to a complete stop before crossing the goose line.
It was too late. I had been in deep thought about how strange the site was for too long. Driving through the goose line was inevitable at this point. One or two of these geese were officially screwed. When I began to drive through the line, I had a glimmer of hope that maybe my tires would end up missing them. My hopes were shattered when I felt a thud underneath my car. When I looked in my rear view mirror, I saw the goose that I hit with his mid-section caved in. His wings were flapping and it appeared as if he was bobbing his head up and down quacking. The rest of the geese just kept walking by in that straight line as if they didn’t even notice. I felt pretty remorseful about it. With my luck, it was probably some child’s special little pet goose.
The strangest critter I have ever hit on the road was most definitely a badger. I was traveling south on Highway 61 and crossed the Iowa river bridge which is located a mile before entering the town of Wapello, IA. Roughly 200 ft. after crossing the bridge, this strange creature with brownish hair and what appeared to be a couple of racing stripes going down it’s backside crossed the road in galloping fashion and ran directly in to my front driver-side tire. I nailed it and I was dumbfounded. I had absolutely no idea what this animal was, for I hadn’t seen anything run the way this animal did in my entire life. Not to mention I didn’t get a very good look at it.
After hitting this animal, I decided to turn the car around in an attempt to find out what this mystery animal that I had just run over with my car actually was. I drove over to it and at this point it had made its way to the shoulder of the road. Either that or he just rolled over there after being hit. It was still alive when I walked up to it. I came within 5 feet from it, and the thing was snarling and making all sorts of growling noises. I initially heard it carrying on from 15 feet away, and it was growling louder and louder with every step that I took towards it.
When I was close enough to get a good look at it, I was able to identify the animal. It was an animal that I had no idea even existed in Iowa. It was a freaking badger. I was always under the impression that badgers were only found in northern parts of Minnesota and Wisconsin and the whole country of Canada. I had no idea that they made their way down to Southeast Iowa. After discovering what the animal was, and listening to the thing growl at me, I ran back to my car as fast as I could. I have heard horror stories about how scrappy badgers are, and how they are one of the most vicious animals. This badger was growling at me as if he wanted to cut my balls off and eat them.
About a month ago, I was driving south on Hwy 61 and was on my way home from work again. I was driving about 60 miles per hour when I noticed there was a pigeon just standing around on my side of the road. I wasn’t going to swerve to miss this pigeon. There was a car driving towards me in the other lane that I didn’t want to have a head-on collision with just because I was trying avoid mauling over a pigeon.
I didn’t want to swerve to the right, because I was going about 60 mph, and I didn’t want to lose control of my vehicle when I hit the shoulder of the road. I thought, “screw it, pigeons can fly and I am sure this one will do so when he notices my vehicle driving towards him.” The closer I came to this pigeon, the more I thought to myself, “damn, when the hell is this pigeon going to fly out of the way.” Well he didn’t even make an attempt to get out of the way. He just stood there and I ran him right the hell over. I looked in my rear view mirror after hitting him and saw a cloud of feathers floating in the air.
Man, if Mike Tyson saw that, I would have found myself in a Dr.’s office answering questions like, “what is your name?” “How old are you?” and “How many fingers am I holding up?” because everyone knows that Mike Tyson loves him some pigeons.
A goose, a badger and a pigeon. Three animals that you don’t see laying in ditches very often, but if this world was infested with millions of Joshua Swafford’s driving around, who knows what you would see laying in the ditch. Everything that happens in my life seems to be so out of the ordinary and unorthodox and this adds more proof. So if you are driving through Iowa and you see a sasquatch, anteater, baboon, polar bear or duckbilled platypus laying dead on the side of the road, chances are I am in the area.
A couple years ago, I hit a hawk with my car. However, I have already written about this occurrence in a blog titled “Ridin’ Ghetto.” If you haven’t read that story then here it is, copied and pasted straight from the “Ridin‘ Ghetto“ blog… http://ricoswaff.com/blog1/?cat=8
“This was so weird. I was driving to Sweet Corn Festival in West Point, and Breuer was with me. As I was driving, a big hawk came flying out of the ditch and looked like it was going to fly straight through the window and hit Breuer right in the face. However, it swerved away at the last second, and ended up flying straight into the side mirror, taking the whole thing completely off the vehicle. That was such a surreal experience. Both of us couldn’t believe what had happened. We didn’t even react until 3 minutes after it happened. After 3 minutes of driving in silence, I finally said to Breuer, “dude did I just hit a hawk with my car?” And Breuer was like, “Uhhh yeah.” This was followed by about 20 minutes of laughter.”
Here is a video taken about a year ago right around the time I ran over the goose. I am with my dad and brother and we are on our way to a Stone Temple Pilots concert.