Who’s Your Snappy?
I was on mile 15 of my 20 mile bike loop, enjoying the mid-afternoon sun of a spectacular day on the cusp of summer and autumn. The temperature had risen to a dry 72 degrees, with a gentle breeze, and I was starting to think about our evening dinner plans with friends.
I might have missed the large turtle in the road, as in the shade its shell was camouflaged in the tarmac, but at that precise moment it was crossing the double yellow line, thereby showing up in the contrast of that middle place. I pulled over, left my bike by the side of the road and went to investigate. Its pointy snout was a give away that it was a snapper. Its shell was the size of a large Frisbee, with considerable bulk on its stocky legs. I nudged it hoping to prompt a more speedy crossing of the busy road.
Just as I did this, a middle aged man with large rectangular wire glasses pulled up beside me and asked briskly, “What’s happening?” He looked down and pronounced, “It’s a snapper.” Then, “Pick him up by the tail and toss him off to the side of the road,” he commanded.
My face must have revealed a combination of confusion, disbelief and annoyance at his tone. I definitely was not going to pick up that large turtle by the tail. I also do not react well to being ordered around by anyone, least of all an irritable stranger. Before I could get out a coherent response he demanded “What’s the matter? Afraid to pick him up by the tail and get him off the road?”
“Well, kind of,” I admitted.
“What are you going to do, stand there and hold up traffic instead?” he barked.
“Um, you’re welcome to pull over right there and do it yourself,” I offered. The shoulder was wide here and this would be very simple. He seemed incredulous that I was not hopping to do his bidding. “You’re just going to stand there, holding up traffic.” He snorted in disgust, slammed his car into gear and then spat out, “Enjoy your life,” as he sped off.
I stared after him. Exactly who is the snapper here? What had spilled on his Cheerios? Just at this moment another bike rider came over, and it seemed that he hand not heard the exchange between Mr. Commando and myself. He took one look at our amphibious friend, picked it up by the back of the carapace, and brought it back over to our side of the road.
It had been my plan to deliver the turtle to the side of the road in which it was headed but I could not bring myself to either make this request of the kind gentleman, nor go and move the turtle again, so I climbed back on my bike and peddled home. Certainly the turtle was better off than when I had encountered it. Wasn’t it?
What had just happened there? The crotchety bloke was not going to get in the way of a beautiful day. With his grumpy attitude, I hope he’s able to enjoy his life; I would do just fine with mine. Next time I will be prepared to pick up the turtle, even one that large, confident that my unrequested assistance might spare it an unpleasant meeting with a motor vehicle. If we do hold up traffic a minute, so be it. In my brightly colored cycling jersey, I’m prepared to ask the faster moving creatures with their much more durable shells to wait for the deliberate travel of the turtle across the road so it can continue to enjoy its life.