Sunday, July 15, 2007

The Buck Stops Here

I'm not sure how I could have forgotten to mention one of the most memorable takeaways from last weekend's show at Bargetto. I hit a deer on the way home Saturday night. Or rather, he hit me, and we were a half a block from what could otherwise be called "downtown" Soquel. If you know that area, you recognize that I use the term "downtown" liberally. But there were houses, and parked cars, lots of both, and it was the last place I expected to see a large deer.

So, I'm poking along Main St. on my way home from a decent first show day, and all of a sudden I'm looking at a handsome buck through the windshield of my Prius, and his nose was probably 2 feet from mine. I was driving, of course, and he was doing an improvised break dancing move of some sort to allow him to glide over my hood on his way over to the other side of the road where my car was not. I'm pretty sure he wasn't expecting this encounter either.

Now, you have to understand how the mind works in order to understand why this was such a surprise. Much of what enters our perceptual stream is not in fact fueled solely by the photons that impinge on our retinal receptors, but rather what our brain tells us should be expected in that context. It's called top-down processing, and my brain told me that a deer was not on the list of likely things I would see in this situation. Would I have quickly recognized the nose of a 737 had it slid into my path? Or a knight in full armor? Probably not. A kid with a ball, or a dog? Probably. I hope so, if I paid any attention at all to all of those driver's ed training movies way back when.

Anyway, while my brain was trying to sort all of this out, Buck did an awkward tumble on the road after departing my hood, stumbled to his feet, bounded up into the front yard of a home, and, I swear to God, flipped me off.

It took me a minute to decide whether or not I should stop, and after mulling it over I decided that the chances that Buck was insured were low, so I accelerated back up to speed, and went home. But seriously, he seemed to be ok, and there wasn't much I could do. Interestingly, the rest of the drive is on mountain back roads, and heavily wooded, so my senses were primed to expect more, which of courese, I did not.

Fortunately the damage was minimal, but it was impressive as the buck managed to damage both left and right front fenders (the former as he pushed off after the hood dance). I get my car back on Tuesday.

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