Sunday, November 04, 2007

We attracted a deer last night. *

I don't remember any jolt of panic when it happened, or even really shock. It was more of a sense of displacement, a "what's wrong with this picture?" state of mind: something like, There shouldn't be a deer there...

But there was a deer there—right there, streaking into my peripheral vision from the left as if on a suicide mission, along one of the darkest stretches of Pennsylvania interstate between Harrisburg and Allentown. We hit it at full highway speed.

The deer's head snapped down and into the hood for just a beat before the large animal disappeared from view; my wife, who was driving, swears that she then heard hooves clattering against pavement, or perhaps the sound of bone yielding to metal, but I heard no such sounds. The car jerked sharply to the right, and Kathy still isn't sure whether the momentary change in course was due to the impact itself or an emergency steering correction on her part. (The air bags did not deploy.) She burst into tears and I had to guide her hand on the steering wheel as together we pulled the Nissan onto the narrow shoulder. In rapid succession I asked her if she was OK and if the car seemed to be drivable, but she was unresponsive; she just kept sobbing. Thankfully there was no traffic immediately behind us. Seconds later a big rig roared by in the right lane, the one we'd been driving in. I don't know whether or not the truck wiped out what was left of the deer. I do know that he almost certainly would've wiped us out, and/or been at the center of some horrific pileup, if he'd been traveling a bit closer on our heels.

I got out and took stock of things; as you can plainly see, the damage to sheet metal was extensive. However, nothing was leaking underneath, and I heard no alarming engine noises, so I deduced that none of the major internal components had been taken out. Though the driver's headlight assembly was missing, the actual bulb remained lit, albeit aimed straight down at the road surface. I decided to bend it back upwards and somehow wedge it into position to illuminate the highway—that is, assuming the car could still be driven. At which point I learned an important lesson about today's high-intensity headlamps: You don't screw around with them. No sooner had I begun tugging at wires than the thing shorted out and exploded, shooting white-hot plastic shrapnel into my hands. (The short also took out the dashboard lights and emergency flashers.) When I eased Kathy into the passenger seat and got back in behind the wheel, the car appeared to have only one gear left—I could not move the shifter forward from neutral—but luckily that one gear was drive. Rather than sit forever on that desolate stretch of highway, waiting to be hit by the next errant truck or waylaid by some interstate pirate, I figured I'd continue driving east until the car failed us. I pulled carefully back onto the road and nursed the Maxima through the remaining 40 miles to the Allentown exit. Other than a slight vibration in the front end and a loud scraping noise each time a bump in the road bounced the damaged sheet metal against the pavement, the car seemed none the worse for wear. It steered straight and had all five forward gears. When I shut it off in front of the house it would not restart—something to do with the shift interlock, is my guess—but the main thing was, it had gotten us home. All I can say is, if you're going to assassinate a deer with a passenger sedan, the Nissan Maxima might be one of the better vehicles to do it in.

Something I kept thinking about on that nerve-wracking drive home was timing, and the way seemingly random events are revealed as not quite so random once they intersect to produce more momentous events, like collisions with deer. If I'd taken two less sips of iced tea before we left the Chinese place in that nice mall in Pittsburgh, or two more sips—anything that altered the timing of the day by a few degrees—we would not have met that animal last night (all other things being equal). It would've passed frighteningly but harmlessly in front of the car, doing no damage to anything but our blood pressures, or it would've raced behind us without our even being aware of it. (So perhaps my level of thirst played a role here.) I thought, too, of the worst possible scenario: If we'd gotten there just a click later—say I'd taken a fractional second longer to get the credit card out of my wallet when paying the bill at the restaurant—the deer would've been directly in front of the car when the impact occurred, and likely would've come up over the hood and into our windshield. In which case I doubt I'd be writing this post. (So the age and "stickiness" of my wallet plays a role, too, along with the number of credit cards I carry and jam into various wallet compartments. And how many other variables figure in that?) Then there's the deer itself: What about its timing? What made it bolt from the woods in that moment? Further, what effect will the death of that deer have on subsequent events? And what about the effect of my operating with just one car for a while? See, we never know all the variables involved...but they're always there, even if mostly in the background/under our radar. They spell the difference between a non-event and a tragedy. They conspire inevitably to produce the life we lead, and the death that takes us.

Consider: Where are the deer in your life? They're out there somewhere. They just haven't run into your field of vision yet. (Of course, this doesn't apply only to bad things. There could be any number of "happy deer" awaiting you as well.)

Incidentally, going out to inspect the car this morning, I noticed a cluster of coarse gray deer hairs embedded between the tire and the rim—actually wedged in there, below the surface, as if they'd been sewn into the tire when it was manufactured. For some reason, that, of all things, gave me chills....

* If you haven't been reading along on this blog for a while, the headline is a reference to the "law of attraction," much in the news of late thanks to The Secret. In its simplest conception, LOA dogma poses that what you have in your life, good or bad, is what you attracted to yourself. No exceptions.


Blair Warren said...


What a frightening story. I'm so glad to hear that you and your wife weren't injured. Sorry the same can't be said about your car, though.

There are many deer where we live so I can relate to how suddenly they can "appear" in front of a vehicle. I've had a number of close calls - one on a motorcycle - but so far I've been lucky.

Thanks for the reminder to stay alert. And not just for literal deer, but metaphorical ones as well.

Steve Salerno said...

Thanks, Blair. Yeah, the car was my pride and joy--probably the best overall car I've owned, except possibly for my other, older Nissan Maxima, which will have to do us for a while. But the more I think about it, the more I'm amazed that we could have a collision of that magnitude--and I mean, let me tell you, the impact was loud and huge--and not have (a) more disabling damage to the vehicle or, far more important (b) terrible and maybe permanent injury to the human beings inside. Almost any slightly different scenario--other than missing the deer altogether--would've been catastrophic. Even if we arrived a second sooner and the animal "met" the driver door... It's another one of those things you don't even want to think about.

Anonymous said...

God bless buddy, I hit a deer some years ago also in Pa, totaled the car which actually was a pickup. Funny thing was it was on the way back from a hunting trip where I didn't get a deer. But that's serious stuff Steve, I don't mean to make light of it, and I am thankful you and family are ok. The car can be fixed or you can get a new one.

Cal said...

Like the other comments, I'm glad you and your better half are OK. I hope she doesn't stay shaken up too much. I've only driven the Pennsylvania Turnpike a couple of times and I hated it. I'm not sure the part you were on is where the road winds and curves like crazy.

I know I try to remember to ratchet up my attention when driving at night during the fall because I know it's mating season for deer.

I'm sure you will be getting personal e-mail from the "haters" who love SCAM and saying you deserved or brought it on yourself. Just like the kids who chose to be born in poverty.

Cosmic Connie said...

Steve, I'm late coming to your blog, and OMG, that *is* a frightening story. I'm so glad you and your wife escaped (physical) injury. Getting over it emotionally might take some time. But you have, as Blair said, made some excellent points about literal as well as metaphorical "deer."

You will have to wait a while for the Rev's comment; ironically enough, he is out deer hunting today with a buddy.

Cosmic Connie said...

Steve, I should modify my previous statement about physical damage; it sounds as if your hand sustained some damage from that exploding light assembly. I'm just grateful it wasn't a lot worse.

a/good/lysstener said...

Oh Steve, that is terrible! I'm so glad you and your family emerged unscathed, as the saying goes. This is one reason I hate driving at night. You just never know, and such things, when they happen are out of your control. It's all in the hands of God.

I think you made very interesting and thought provoking points about the wider meaning here too. As you usually do. (I would've put a smiley there but somehow it seems inappropriate under these circumstances.) I hope you can shake this off and that there are happier deer in your future.

Your PR Guy said...


I'm happy to hear you and Kathy are doing well -- as well as expected -- given the collision.

Steve Salerno said...

Just received an email that proves that a literal interpretation of my title for this post was, in fact, possible. The writer contends that I did perhaps attract that deer into my life via my unwarranted attack on Joe V prior to my departure for Pittsburgh. See--this writer theorizes--by attacking Joe's relentless positivity, I sent my own negativity out into the atmosphere, and received the appropriate karmic payback. (The writer does not speculate on why my wife had to be there for this cosmic wrist-slap, as it were.)

Uneffinbelievable. Every time I start to wonder how there could possibly be an audience for the crap written by Vitale, Rhonda Byrne and the other New Wagers...someone reminds me with neon-light clarity.

Rational Thinking said...

Oh deer (couldn't resist).

Is "attracted" a synonym for "hit"?

Just wanted to express my sympathies for the deer, your wife, you and your car. Roughly in that order :-)

Rational Thinking

Cosmic Connie said...

Steve, are you certain that this person wasn't being ironic? Even as cynical as I've become about New-Wage folks, I can't believe that someone would actually be that stoopid... but then again, the Secretrons and JoeBots never fail to surprise me.

Steve Salerno said...

Connie, I give you here, without editing, the email. (As most of you know by now, I do not disclose email addresses without permission from the sender.) You tell me: Do you think this person is being ironic? In fact, s/he notes the irony of my own "incident," as follows:

"Your negativity is coming back on you, Steve!! Do you not think it's ironic that just this Friday you were attacking Joe Vitale for the "sin" of upholding the power of positive thinking, and apparently just 24 hours later you have your incident on the highway? You may find it convenient to dismiss as mere coincidence or try to explain in the overly complicated way you always do (which btw completely dismisses the PROVEN power of the human spirit!), those of us who really understand what Joe and LOA are about know better!

"It's bad enough to think negatively for yourself, it's far worse when you try to tear down inspirational leaders others look to for guidance. (Out of jealousy? Simple mean-spiritedness?) Maybe now you have learned your lesson, but I doubt it. If I were you I'd keep my eyes open for the next deer or worse."

Cosmic Connie said...

I gotta admit, it sounded like the person was serious. That was absolutely revolting. In fact, it almost sounded threatening.

Steve Salerno said...

My sentiments exactly. But over the years (in writing), I've heard a lot worse than that--and a lot less veiled. You should see (or rather, you should've heard) some of the messages that awaited me when I'd get back to my hotel after a day of in-person interviewing for the book I wrote about that sensational Houston-area murder case (Price Daniel Jr.) some years ago. Death threats with absolutely nothing left to the imagination. You Texas types don't mess around! ;)

Lana said...

I'm gad you and your wife are okay! It sounds like the impact was pretty hard -- you might consider getting checked for whiplash.


I'm wondering about the person who emailed their pronouncement that your negativity is coming back on you for attacking Joe -- the person who claims to "really understand what Joe and LOA are about."

Does this person not realize that if you, Steve, are in this person's reality (by reading your blog and emailing you), that he or she is co-creating the experience? And that the only way he or she can make such judgments against you is because of his or her own negative vibration?

When are these people ever going to get the LOA right?!

Steve Salerno said...

I don't know when they're going to get LOA right, Lana--but right now I'm in a more pragmatic mode, simply hoping that the collision shop can make my car right.

Does anyone know: Is it possible to attract a good mechanic?

Amy J + Energy = Bliss! said...

Hello Steve,

I'm glad to hear that you and your wife are ok and made it through your deer hit.

It's a frightening thing to have a large animal just come out of seeming nowhere on a dark highway, but they do - all too often. Too many deer, not enough woods left, so they appear on the roads.

I understand that you can attract a good mechanic by seeking and following the teachings of the Yellow Pages.

Be well,

Steve Salerno said...

A guy's gotta wonder: Could a Panoz survive a tangle with a deer?

(For the benefit of the uninitiated, Mr. Fire has made much of his love affair with his Panoz... Or did he trade up by now?)

gregory said...

am i the only one who read this post waiting to find out the condition of the single injured entity, the deer?

i am often out of step with the concepts here, better stick with, where the self-regard is at least on the table

enjoy your career

Cosmic Connie said...

Steve wrote: "(For the benefit of the uninitiated, Mr. Fire has made much of his love affair with his Panoz... Or did he trade up by now?)"

He still has his first Panoz and recently won another Panoz on eBay. This second car once belonged to Steven Tyler of Aerosmith. For a while Joe was thinking of buying James Caan's Bentley, but he decided not to.

When blogging about winning the eBay bid he was, of course, not bragging; he was presenting his readers with a metaphysical lesson:

"When you are in alignment with your goals and deservingness, there is balance in your world.

"For example, yesterday I bought Tyler’s Panoz AIV Roadster for $41,000 and today I received an offer to write a new book with an advance for far more than what I just spent on the car."

In case Amy's suggestion about attracting a good mechanic doesn't work (hi, Amy!), no worries. Joe will gladly sell you lessons on how you, too, can attract a new car.

Steve Salerno said...

Gregory, there are many times when I read your comments and ask myself, "Is he making this stuff up purposely to be provocative, or to seem 'out there'?" This isn't quite one of those times--I can understand concern for an animal (all the more so as the "single injured entity")--but you still leave me scratching my head, especially since I addressed your questions (or at least thought I did) to the best of my ability in the post itself.

It was nighttime on an unlit stretch of highway when the accident occurred, and the deer simply disappeared after we hit it. Just disappeared. I looked back along the road, as best as I could see, and I saw nothing. Nor--as I also say in the original post--did I see the truck that followed us swerve to avoid anything, or appear to run anything over. Given the darkness, the narrowness of the shoulder, and the fact that the car would not go into reverse--which I also say in the post--it would've placed the remaining, living humans in extreme peril to make any further attempt to ascertain the status, or the mere whereabouts, of the animal. I was not going to try to walk back along the shoulder, and I was not going to leave my wife there alone with the car. I was not going to risk my life or my wife's life, especially in the state of mind she was in, to try to find an animal that may well have run off into the other side of the woods (i.e. on the passenger side of the car) to die. I immediately dialed the State Police on the cell and reported the incident and the approximate location. And I left it to them to handle. If all of that bespeaks too high a degree of "self-interest" for you, so be it.

One of the things my wife kept saying through her sobs, once she composed herself well enough to talk a bit, was, "I killed a deer...I killed a deer..." So maybe I should've included that in the story. We have shared our home with animals many times, have contributed to animal-rescue initiatives, etc. My wife even prays to St. Francis, who in the Catholic Church is the guardian of "the beasts." I don't think I should really have to say any of this--i.e. to prove my animal-loving bona fides to you--but if the past is any indication, it seems I often have to say things to you that, common sense would suggest, shouldn't require saying.

I'll miss your input, but you do what you feel you have to do, my friend.

Tomas S said...

Glad you didn't get hurt. Most modern cars handles smaller animals quite well. It's a different story with moose, as seen in these pictures. Went right through the windshield and out of the back..

Steve Salerno said...

Thank you, Tomas. That photo--wow. Never seen anything like it.

Mike Cane said...

LOL over that headline!

But I noticed your tags for the post.

Don't you need one called Coincidence?