It’s a dangerous world. One knows to expect that a deadly accident could transpire from just crossing a quiet neighborhood side street, and so we learn from a young age to take sensible precautions. In that case, we look left, we look right, and we look left again before proceeding.
In other situations, there tends to be some way of coping, as the situation has happened before. Threats come from where we expect, commonly at a time we expect. There is no cognitive dissonance that has to be resolved before the matter can even be started to be reckoned with.
But in the case of one Florida woman – because of course it happened in Florida, this caliber of strangeness could only ever have happened in Florida-- there was no playbook for how to react, because as she rode shotgun in a moving vehicle, she was hit by a flying turtle.
And this may be Florida where a 71 year old woman innocently going about her day was struck in the face by an airborne reptile, but that doesn’t mean it’s the realm of Super Mario, where turtles fly through the sky, plumbers hurl fireballs and the consumption of huge mushrooms confers upon their eater enormous size. This is simply US Interstate 95, where cars strike cars, cars strike people, and cars strike trees. Cars are not stricken by some cousin to Japan’s Gamera.
But that is just what happened: a turtle slipped the surly bonds of Earth, as the poet said, and broke through the glass barrier to enter a rapidly moving vehicle and come to a rapid halt against the countenance of a stunned, elderly lady. That takes some coming to terms with first.
The woman’s daughter, who was driving, pulled over. No doubt the pair required a moment to process that anything had happened at all. We know that they did not realize, and could not possibly have guessed, that a slow, sluggish, shelled creature had been the agent of their misfortune. Not then, and not when they first called 911. Nor when a fellow motorist stop to render aid as well as an additional brain to be wrapped around what happened.
It was that Good Samaritan, not in shock from the impact, who could recognize that there was a turtle now in the car. But perhaps they would have assumed it did belong in there. What else could be true? Only the car’s occupants could add the crucial detail that the turtle was an inexplicably sky-faring interloper.
A prosaic cause was arrived at. It was said that the turtle was in the air in the first place because it had been struck and sent hurtling by another car while endeavoring to cross the highway. And that was surely the how, in the way that “fire” is the how of having been burned by the breath of a dragon.
But it may have been the daughter who, while on the phone with the 911 operator, struck on the true why of a turtle who became the enemy of a septuagenarian for just a moment. She opined that her mother had “the worst luck of anything”. And what else can one call it but luck, or fate, or some inexplicable force by another name. Something that could do something so random has to awe you.