Sunday, May 20, 2007

More Squirrel Madness - Indoor Rodent Sports

Yesterday I wrote about how squirrels aren't stupid, they're just thrill seekers. Sometimes they take their love for extreme sports too far.

Once, when I worked at the Hospital, the daytime parking lot attendant went on vacation. I volunteered to fill in for her, if only to get a nice chunk of steady days and get off rotating shifts. It was the lot at the farthest end of the hospital property on Poplar avenue, with lots of trees and very little traffic. It was a no-brainer. Except for the squirrels.

The lady who worked the booth kept a large bag of whole peanuts inside, on top of the computer. She entertained herself by throwing out one peanut at a time and watching several dozen hungry squirrels fight for it. There was this one squirrel who used to win most of the time. He was very large and grey, with scars on his face and belly and he was missing half his tail.

I was sitting in the booth, ignoring the squirrels demands, when along came Mr. Grey, the street fighter. He stood on the curb opposite the booth and glared at me. Apparently I was too stupid to realize that the peanuts in the booth belonged to him and he was going to make sure I knew it. He ran up to the booth and chattered at me. I ignored him, just to see what would happen.

He was miffed. He jumped up onto the ledge outside the window and bitched at me for a few minutes. I was enjoying it so much, I decided to continue ignoring him to see what else he would try. I know now that you should never underestimate a squirrel who wants your nuts. Ignoring him was a bad mistake.

Keep in mind it's a tiny booth, only enough room for one person sitting down or two skinny people standing up. Mr. Grey was at my left hand, less than six inches from my arm, alternately screeching at me then looking a the bag of peanuts on top of the computer. Eventually hunger overrode his fear.

He jumped. He leaped inside the booth, flew over the computer and dropped into the bag of nuts. I was alarmed. He jammed a few nuts into his cheeks and sprung out of the bag. He landed on the computer. He started sliding down the cover and freaking out. Just before the snarling ball of angry claws landed in my lap, he performed a perfect side-leap and flug himself out the window.

Into the path of an oncoming car.

He managed to avoid getting run over but some of his nuts weren't so lucky. After the car passed he came back and scraped up what was left, chattering indignantly. Tough little guy.

I made sure to leave some peanuts out for him every day after that.
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