Opportunity Lost

I was on the way home from the girlfriend’s house this morning, a routine trip I have made literally thousands of times. As I was merging from southbound Mopac onto Loop 360, a long sweeping left-hand curve between high roadcuts, a small movement caught my eye.

Nearly hidden in the tall grass by the roadside was a young puppy, black with patches of white. Confused or maybe terrified, he bounced up and down, feinted toward the road for a step or two and then retreated to the relative safety of the tall grass. A beat later I spotted the other pup, his color scheme the inverse of the first, sitting motionless in the thinning grass by the roadway. With the cliff at their backs, they had no safe retreat. Ten feet away cars whizzed past, each a possible instrument of instant death. I silently cursed the person who, I realized, must have just left them there to die.

Traveling close to 70, I had maybe three seconds to react, one thousand two thousand three thousand, or the opportunity to intervene would be lost. Returning would have taken a several mile detour and an impractically long time.

And in those precious three seconds there came a flood of lame excuses: You might scare them if you pull over, you might hang your car up on a hidden rock, you could cause an accident, how will you get them into the car? What about your other dogs? What if you do everything in your power and it still ends badly?

My mind flashed back to a time long ago, when I was a small child and saw a dog get hit by a car. It happened right in front of me. I can still hear the sickening crunch of breaking bone, the howls of pain and terror. It was a horrible, gut-wrenching experience that left me traumatized for weeks after. The thought of repeating that experience paralyzed me with dread.
And so the moment was lost. I did nothing. I kept going. I consoled myself with the notion that the pups would stay in the tall grass, safe, until some good Samaritan came along. Surely “somebody” would do “something.”
I had the chance to act, to make a difference, to save a pair of small innocent lives. And I did nothing.


© 2022 by Scott P. Snell

Right of reuse is freely granted with proper attribution.

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