Turtle Guilt

11454297503_e27946e4ff_hDriving to work recently, I noticed a turtle crossing the pavement on the other side of the road. There was no place to pull over safely, so I kept going. As I drove on and up the curving hill, I glanced back over my shoulder.

Hurry up, little guy!

The distance between us was growing.

Maybe there’s somewhere up ahead I can stop…but it’s probably a snapping turtle… Ugh!

Still, I should really pull over, walk back and move it…

I looked at the edge of the road. There still wasn’t a great spot to pull over. I looked down at my sandal clad feet. Clearly nudging the turtle with my foot (which I have done in the past) wasn’t an option.

If I try to pick it up, its head is going to whip around, its jaw will open and SNAP! that’ll be the end of my finger! Darn it. I should have clicked on that video link I saw on Facebook the other day. Then I’d know how to move it safely. 

While my internal monologue droned on, I continued driving, each moment moving farther and farther away, from both the turtle and from the likelihood of moving it.  Just stop!  I told myself, beginning to feel like someone who abandoned a puppy, or didn’t call 911. Guilt spread on me like a greasy stain, but I kept going, rationalizing why I wasn’t stopping — It was almost to the edge, wasn’t it? It wasn’t safe for me to pull over. I have so much to do at work! My fingers! The next driver will surely stop.

The next driver.

When I drove by that spot the next day on the way to work, I slowed way down. My eyes scanned the pavement, searching for a tell-tale smudge. Nothing. I’d like to say I felt relieved, and I did, but mostly I still felt guilty. I should have stopped. 

Even now, weeks later,  I still feel uncomfortable that I didn’t stop, though I have that defensive queue of excuses lined up tidily in my head. But most of those excuses are pretty thin. Really, I chose not to act because it wasn’t convenient and because I was scared–of a small snapping turtle. Ultimately, I hoped that someone else would do what I should have done. But, as one of my colleagues is fond of saying, “You don’t want to be that guy.” And I don’t. I want to be the driver who stops, not the one who keeps going.

So, after writing this, I decided to go back to Facebook and watch the video to eliminate at least one of my excuses. Honestly, after doing so, I’m not sure I feel much better about moving a snapping turtle, but at least I’ll have a starting point.

13 thoughts on “Turtle Guilt

  1. My second snapping turtle story of the morning. See Where’s the Joy for a sweet turtle story. I love when a moment causes us to go back and learn more. This is a story of a compassionate learner.

    Liked by 1 person

    • mbhmaine says:

      I clicked on Jessica’s link right after I posted this. What a coincidence! Also, thanks for the “compassionate learner” lens–it’s a much nicer one than the one I was using!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. jcareyreads says:

    I love md reading this, especially after our weekend with snapping turtles. As I read, I was thinking we should also watch that video… and then you linked it. Thank you! This piece says so much about you. Your heart is big.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. margaretsmn says:

    That internal dialogue I can completely relate to. I saw an article on FB yesterday and sent it to Catherine. It had the steps for safely moving a turtle. It seems to be a popular issue right now. I’m learning the hard way that we can’t always save wild animals (or wild duck eggs).

    Liked by 1 person

    • mbhmaine says:

      I saw your FB post and another one as well. I guess now that spring’s arrived (sort of) up here, all the animals are moving about. My fingers are still crossed for a successful batch of eggs for you and your duck!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. dmsherriff says:

    My morning started by reading jcareyreads post about a nesting turtle in her garden! Now, yours! It is a turtle time of year. I love this line “guilt spread over me like a greasy stain” – those stains seem to stick with us and that is evident as you begin the end “even now, week later”. Love the internal dialogue! Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Julie says:

    I really like how you kept the anticipation and tension going with the inner monologue and the description of the car moving further and further away. The story ticked forward with the pace of the car and the agony of your thoughts… 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Amanda Potts says:

    Oh! I know that internal monologue – and how it keeps going as you keep getting further away. Yup. I recognize that. I hope that the voice has quieted a little now. If it helps, I watched the video and am now in a much better position to move a turtle – so while you didn’t move that one, you may have helped others get saved!

    Liked by 1 person

    • mbhmaine says:

      Thanks, Amanda! The video was really helpful, but I also felt really bad for the turtle! Imagine the blogpost he’d have written–“You won’t believe the day I had!……and then, he turned me around once again (really!) and pulled me back across the road!”


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