A while ago, in Germany, I was driving home late at night as my wife slept in the passenger seat. Quick as lightning, the head of a deer pierced the beam of the driver’s side headlight followed by a weirdly satisfying “thump”. I’m not sure what woke my wife – the thump or my involuntary gasp – but I immediately told her what was obvious to me: that I had just hit a deer. My wife, characteristically, didn’t believe me. “But I saw it” I protested. “I hit it right in the head.” It was after midnight, we were tired, our young son was sleeping in the backseat and we were on the autobahn. These factors, along with my wife’s skepticism about what had occurred, contributed to our decision to continue driving through the night. Also, I didn’t know any better.
When we pulled into our driveway, I turned off the engine instead of making the white-knuckle, thread-the-needle maneuver that is parking your car in a middle-class German garage. I stepped out of the car, approached the driver’s-side headlight and there, sure enough, was a dent about the size of a basketball. It was hard to tell what amazed my wife more: that I had hit a deer or that I was correct in stating that I had hit a deer. Anyway, I pulled into the garage, we carried the kid and our things upstairs and decided we would deal with the details tomorrow.
My wife called her insurance company who sent out an agent. Having inspected our car he decided, to our surprise, that there was no evidence that we had hit a deer: no blood, no fur, etc. My wife took this personally, suggesting that it meant that the insurance company viewed her claim exactly as she had initially viewed mine: as “less than factual”.
Another contributing factor, she explained, was our failure to telephone, immediately after impact, either the correct government agency or an area hunter. With no confirmation that I had killed the deer outright, an injured deer can go a little nuts and pose a danger to others. This fascinated me no end. How does that work, exactly, at two in the morning?
“Hi, my name is David Deeble. I’m sorry to wake you but I just hit a deer out here on the A2. Anyway, it all happened so fast that I can’t be sure if I killed it outright and I thought maybe you could come out here and make sure the job gets finished. Can you help me out?”