On road trips with my family as a kid, I liked to play a game where I pretended to be a host of a radio show about roadkill. It required a lot of vamping, and then whenever we passed an animal that had met an untimely end, I’d describe it in detail to my listeners: the bloody headless torso of a deer; a decomposing skunk who’d left behind its scent; and most often, an unidentified pile of fur. I’d always end these segments by assuring my listeners that there was a clean up crew following our radio van who would take care of the carcasses.
This week on my way to the gym for a noon workout I accidentally hit an animal–what I thought was a squirrel–spotting a split of brown fur dash underneath my car. But what turned out to be a rabbit. I didn’t feel a bump when I hit it. It was only when I slowed to a stop and looked back in my rearview mirror to see its spasming body that contact was confirmed. I made the block, and by time I returned, the rabbit had gone still. It was lying on its side, one dead eye looking straight at me.
This was the second rabbit death I’ve witnessed in my lifetime. The first was my rabbit Hoppy, who was attacked by my neighbors’ dog after the dog had jumped our fence and busted into Hoppy’s pen beneath our tree house. I watched this unfold from my dining room window, one story above the backyard. A couple months ago, I saw a rabbit being pursued by two foxes at Tilden Park in Berkeley, but I’m not sure how the chase ended because after stopping to look at us the animals dashed off the trail into the surrounding scrub.
I wasn’t sure what to do after confirming the rabbit I accidentally hit was dead so I parked on a side street, Googled my problem, and ended up calling 311. Eventually I was connected to DeKalb County Sanitation Services, but it turned out I was in the City of Atlanta’s jurisdiction when the incident occurred. After repeating my story to four different telephone operators, some of whom reacted with what I felt was unwarranted enthusiasm for the situation, I was able to file a service request. By the time I left the gym a few hours later, the rabbit was gone–the imagined clean up crew of my youth brought to life by the Department of Public Works of the City of Atlanta.