Thursday, August 2, 2007
Why Did the Owl Cross the Road?
So I'm driving into work this morning when traffic comes to a dead stop near I-95's Academy Road interchange. But I'm driving north—there's rarely major congestion driving away from the city during morning rush hour. An accident must lay ahead. As cars inch along in their maddening dance and the minutes tick toward a late arrival at work, I see that the southbound lanes are also at a standstill. In the distance are parked police cars in the left-hand emergency lanes straddling the median. Though their red lights are flashing, there's no apparent disturbance—no disabled or wrecked car, no apprehended violator, no sign of distress whatsoever. What's going on?
Two policemen are standing on the other side of the median, in the emergency lane, seemingly doing nothing. For a second, I thought they might actually be conducting a really-ill-conceived seatbelt check. But as I slowly approach the police cars, I see that the two officers on the other side of the median are positioned about six feet from an owl standing on the side of the road. They're safeguarding it...and presumably awaiting the arrival of animal-protection personnel.
I believe this to be the first owl-related traffic jam in the history of the Pennsylvania highway system. (Unofficial confirmation has come from PENNDOT...if you consider their response of "You're an idiot." as verification.) Although this lazy bird of prey added fifteen minutes to my commute, I suppose I should feel a part of history...not to mention a bit of kinship—as a Temple Owl, I once interrupted traffic by lying down on Broad Street to show my solidarity for Switzerland's struggling longshoremen.
And as owls are not normally indigenous to interstate roadways, I suggest this to be a new species of owl, whose name and taxonomy I submit as the "speckled commuter owl" (Ninox commuterii).
(Photos courtesy of PDPhoto.org)