Today was a bad day. But it could have been worse.
It started when my alarm never went off. I woke up an hour and a half later than I should, which meant that I couldn't eat breakfast, and tried to shower as fast as I could.
So I rush out the door, and am five minutes down the road, when I realize that I forgot to take the chicken out of the freezer. So I turn around my car and go back to the house to get the chicken.
Now I'm running ten minutes later on top of everything. OK, fine, I'm in my car and on my way. The Schuylkil (I76) is realtively clear, I'm sailing by at 80 mph, into the city. I'm making good time. I'm driving though the city, and then--
I could see the cat run out into the street. I could see the woman yelling after the cat, upset, afraid for it. But worst, I could feel that horrible, bone-breaking thud as I ran over the cat. I looked in my rearview mirror as I skidded to a halt. The cat was twitching. I jumped out of the car. Ran down the half-block. The cat twitched. Then stopped breathing. It's green eyes, like marbles, open, saw nothing, didn't see it's owner looking at it, crying. It didn't see it's killer looking at it, trying not to cry.
I never killed anything before.
And the woman was upset but understood I didn't mean to do it. It was actually her mother's cat, and I got the phone number for her mother, so that I could contact her later in the day. I wanted to make it up to her, to maybe get her a new cat.
So later, I called the mother, and told her I was the one who ran over her cat. She'd gotten it for $50. So I told her I'd give her $50--she wanted to go to the SPCA. And so, later, after work, I stopped by the house. It's not in the best part of town--North Philly, where so much is dilapidated or abandoned. I didn't care--I work in this area, I drive through here, eat here, am here every day. I grew up just west of here, actually. It's familiar, and as run down as it is, it's kinda homelike.
I was nervous, of course. She'd been kind on the phone, but still I was nervous, facing the woman whose pet I killed. I knocked on the door. A boy came, let me in. I explained who I was to a woman--another daughter. Mrs. Harris came downstairs. I explained again. She was sad, but grateful that I called to apologize. So I gave her the $50, and she hugged me. "Thank you. Not everyone would even stop, you know."
"Oh, but, but it was your pet! It wouldn't be right not to!" But still I felt horrible for what had happened.
And then, as I drove home, I was listening to the news on NPR. They ran the story about the elderly man in California who ran over ten people in a farmer's market. I don't know his circumstances, exactly, but suddenly I thought, "Thank God that wasnt' me. Thank God it was only a cat and not a person." Because if a cat feels this bad, I can't imagin what it would be like to kill a person because I was late for work.