The day after Thanksgiving, that beautiful day the US knows as Black Friday really was black for me.
I live outside of a small PA city, a good 25- 30 minutes down a two lane, windy, country road to a closet community where there are houses and not much else.
Except for deer. There are always deer. Farmland and woods make the perfect setting for deer to eat, graze, and live in peace. The road however poses a problem for the deer as cars cruise 45- 60 mph down this road. Throughout the year, each month of each season, dead deer dot the road here and there.
I’ve lived in this area for over a year now, passing deer so many nights. And I’ve had some pretty close calls with hitting deer, but I always felt blessed that it never actually happened.
“No, no deer, you stay there!” I’d say to the deer as I zoomed past. One time I honked my horn at a deer to spook it from the road, which did nothing, the deer stood there and just looked at my car. The saying “a deer in headlights” is a true statement. They stare blankly at your car, stiff, until the last second, when you don’t know which way they’ll run, if they run at all. Countless times the deer have either stuck their neck out and run the other way, or galloped passed and I was blessed enough to see them and hit the breaks instead!
Not this Black Friday. A car and I passed each other on this two lane road, and I was blinded enough to miss the deer running across the road right to my car. I hit the breaks, but not fast enough. The doe was huge, and her rump hit the passenger side of my car with a “Bang!” and sounds of broken glass.
I pulled over, turned my blinkers on, and waited a second to calm down before assessing the damage.
Honestly, I was lucky.
Broken glass, a bent hood, blood and fur, the passenger side of my car was, is, a mess, but even hitting the deer I was blessed.
My car is driveable. I’m not hurt. And the truck behind me, which was inches from hitting me when I slammed on my breaks, swerved to the side and zoomed into the night.
I called my brother for advice on what to do, the deer had run off into the cornfield to my right, so I was left alone to the damage of my car and delayed evening plans.
I spent the evening making a claim with my car insurance and researching deer accidents.
I discovered that Pennsylvania makes up for 10% of all deer accidents in the USA. November is the most likely time of the year to hit a deer. Between the hours of 5pm and midnight are when deer are most active and people won’t see the deer as quickly, which pop out of nowhere.
When did I hit a deer? 7 pm, November night, in PA.
“A perfect statistic,” I whispered to myself that night after researching.
I was immediately taken back to a day when I sat with a college professor over lunch and told him a pretty painful family situation that was going on at home in Pennsylvania, while I was in school in California.
With a mouthful of salad I said to him, “I feel like a statistic.” His immediate response, Communications professor that he was, “You know, saying you are a statistic sounds like victim language. You are not a victim.”
At the time I felt like a victim. Of loss. Of change. Of a hopeless situation that I was powerless to help. Why couldn’t he see that and have sympathy for me? I was a victim to the situation, or so I thought.
Fast forward three years, no longer fall of my senior year in college, but fall of 2015 when I hit a deer with a car, statistically this was bound to happen. But I am not the victim of the situation. I am blessed.
Blessed that the car was not more damaged.
Blessed to not be hurt.
Blessed that I have a wake up call to contact my insurance company about better coverage (they aren’t going to pay a dime).
Blessed that I am more aware of deer than ever, and to not take risks looking at my phone, or adjusting the radio on those windy roads. Deer pop out of nowhere!
Blessed that my brother was available to talk me through what to do, and that my mom allowed me to borrow her car when I needed that night.
Bad things happen. And sometimes you can even COUNT on bad things happening statistically. But what is your mindset in those moments? Are you the victim of what’s happened around you?
“If only that other car didn’t blind me.” “If only I had called for better coverage a month before when I first thought of it.” “If only I didn’t live so far out of town where deer run rampant…”
Or do you see the blessings of an exhausting, expensive, discouraging, and sometimes painful experience, to wake up and act?
My goal is not to wallow as a victim, but to think and act as an overcomer with more to learn from life’s little lessons, and to asses my own language and mindsets.
Maybe it didn’t need to take 3 years for Dr. Spencer’s words to make sense and hit home for me, but I’m honestly smiling that I am still learning from the professor whom I haven’t seen in so long.
He was right. My life is so much more than even the perfect statistic.