Tim Pratt
SF and Fantasy Writer

In Which I Encounter Wildlife

Tuesdays are trash days at work. (That also used to be my day off; I didn’t have to help take out trash and recycling for ages. It was awesome. Oh well.) Yesterday we all forgot to do trash, until I was the last one in the office. At 5:25 a co-worker called, having remembered, so I sighed a heavy and long-suffering sigh and said, “Oh, I’ll do it.”

I gathered all the recycling and lugged it outside to the big gray bin. I gathered all the trash and lugged it out to the trash can. Then I picked up the little green pail of organic waste, took it to the big green waste recycling bin, lifted the lid…

And saw a filthy, shit-covered, terrified, twenty-pound raccoon staring up at me. I shouted profanity and jumped back about a few feet, letting the lid fall closed. Then I pondered my options. Leave it as a surprise for the trash guys in the morning? Open the lid again and risk getting a face full of leaping terror with needle teeth streaked with panic feces? (Keep in mind: I had to pick up my kid by 6 o’clock in order to avoid a $10-per-minute late charge at the preschool, a 15-minute drive away, so I had a ticking clock situation.)

Eventually I just gently tipped over the bin, flipped open the lid with a broom handle from a safe distance… and waited. The raccoon didn’t come out, its nightmare of confinement now made even more scary by the arrival of a roaring giant. So I banged on the can a bit to encourage it, and that just made it crawl deeper inside. I stood around for a while and tried to make myself unobtrusive and eventually the raccoon scurried out, caught sight of me, freaked out, and ran into the neighbor’s walled yard.

Who knows how long it had been trapped in there — less than a week, surely, but otherwise…

While I was picking up the green bin (and finally throwing out our old eggshells and coffee grounds), a large female deer wandered up from the woods and stood about four feet away from me, as if expecting to be hand-fed. We see deer a lot here in the hills, but they tend to be a lot more skittish than that. I said, “S’up, deer?” And the deer walked off, also into the neighbor’s walled yard. I was like, “Is there a Disney princess in there or something?”

In fact, the whole experience of my workplace has the flavor of a Disney movie, as directed by David Lynch. I know that, sounds extreme. But I haven’t mentioned the insane pregnant squirrel who lives in our plum tree. One of my co-workers has been feeding the squirrels peanuts, which has made them fat, complacent, and confident. But the pregnant squirrel has gone mad, and is so aggressive she chases people up the stairs, stands on the thresholds of doors chittering wildly, and will occasionally rear up on her hind legs and gaze at us through the sliding glass doors for minutes at a time like an obsessed stalker. The other day she came at me frantically, so I tried to shoo her with a broom, and she started climbing up the broom. I ended up having to shove her right off the edge of the deck, where she promptly ran up a tree and started screaming at me.

Next time, I’m getting help to take out the trash.

3 Responses to “In Which I Encounter Wildlife”

  1. Emma Bull Says:

    Dude! Take backup!

  2. Jeremy Says:

    I live in a rural area and none of our native wild life is that bold. Our Squirrels have a proper fear and respect of our dog. Our Mulch pile that is frequented by Rabbits and other sundry critters is constantly stalked by the local red tail hawk or great horned owl. Seems like to me you should introduce some predators in the area or do some predating yourself.

    Like Man vs Wild but you know in an office setting.

  3. Jay Says:

    haha I almost spit my drink everywhere – this post was awesome.

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