Saving the Raccoons

May I first say that I hope you are all well and that the hurricanes have not disrupted your lives. I don’t know how that would be possible because hurricanes, by nature, are disruptive but I hope that you and your families are well.

Derek and I took a shower at the gym on Tuesday after the storm and headed back to work.  When we got back home that night our power was back on. He told me that he had been helping to re-open the office building that he works at the whole day.  This included walking around the building and picking up all the garbage (and random car parts) that had blown around during the storm.  When he got to the dumpsters to throw the trash away, he opened the side access panel and saw a face staring back at him.  It was a raccoon that had ridden out the storm in the dumpster.   Derek then turned around and looked into a second dumpster.  There was another terrified raccoon sitting on a box surrounded by 8 inches of murky water. 

Now Derek knows better than to reach into a dumpster to try and pull out a raccoon.  Any animal that is that afraid is going to bite you, regardless of your intentions.  So Derek walked over to one of the maintenance managers and asked him if he had access to any wood that they could prop into the dumpster to make ramps.  Miraculously, he just happened to have 4 perfect pieces of wood in the back of his truck.  They took each piece and propped them into the dumpster so that the raccoons could climb out.  They stood back, but nothing happened. They gave them an hour and still nothing, the raccoons were too scared to move.  In the end, pest control was called, and two men in proper gear arrived and pulled the raccoons out with grabbers.  They were released later that day in a nature reserve.

On the Saturday before the storm Derek had a different experience.  When he arrived at work to help secure the building for the rapidly approaching hurricane, he heard that there had been a young woman causing trouble in the lobby.  Apparently she had shown up that morning with a large duffle bag that seemed to contain everything she owned and had sat down in the building’s lobby like she was setting up a camp to ride out the storm.  Different people who work in the building approached her to see if she needed some help. but she was quite belligerent to each of them.  Eventually the manager on duty was called in.  When she approached the young woman with the duffle bag, there was quite the exchange of words.  In the end the woman took her bag, walked outside and sat on a bench in the 95 degree sun.  Eventually she took the bag and walked away.

Now we instinctively know that an animal in fear will bite us, and yet we will go to great lengths to make sure that they get to safety.  When did we forget that people can also lash out from fear?  On reflection, Derek just wished that he could have said “I know that this is scary, I can help you get to a shelter where you will be safe” and that she would have been able to hear him and accept the help.  

We don’t always know what to do. We don’t always know where to go, and we all experience fear.  It is our ability to see past it, to help the person lashing out at us and to accept help from people who care about us that makes us human.  Maybe our lives need a little disruption to remind us that without compassion, we are all alone standing on a box in murky water.  


Mark Ramey