Call me weird. Call me crazy. Call me overly sympathetic. It doesn't bother me, in fact, I'm proud of the fact that

I carry helpless turtles across the road.

Yes, that's right. Some people try to be nice by helping old ladies cross the street. I figure the humans can fend for themselves. But what about our slow-moving, amphibious friends? I do a lot of driving. As such, I occasionally come across a turtle, slowly making his or her way across the road on which I'm travelling. Whenever possible, I stop on the side of the road, get out, and carry the velocity-impaired reptile safely to its destination.

Why do I do this? It seems to contradict parts of my typically Darwinian mentality. I am always having near-misses with squirrels, chipmunks, and other cute, fuzzy animals, occasionally hitting those unfortunate enough to run towards the tires, instead of away. I feel bad about this. But unlike the beloved turtle, our furry little friends have every ability to get out of the path of an oncoming vehicle. And birds! These winged creatures have the entire lower atmosphere in which to play, yet they come within inches of my speeding vehicle on nearly a daily basis.

Turtles, on the other hand, are known for their lack of speed. While the average squirrel can cross a road quite rapidly, the typical turtle takes many minutes to make his journey to the other side, leaving it exposed to the speeding monsters of metal, against which its protective shell is no match.

So be a good planetary citizen. Save a life. Give these wonderful creatures a hand. Prevent yet another highway fatality. It just might make you feel good about yourself. And, I mean, come on...they're turtles. =)

TheMistressKali has a good point--carrying a turtle to the wrong side of the road does more harm than good. Turtles may not be incredibly intelligent, but they do know which way they were going. Make sure the destination never leaves their line of sight.

Those little white or yellow bumps that some highway departments use for lane markers. I learn from a fellow noder that an official name for them is Botts dots.

The good thing about them is that they're very visible, even in rain or a little snow, and they let you do a certain amount of driving by braille, if you're into that sort of thing. The bad thing about them is that, where it matters, snowplows scrape them right off.

Usually the dots are about two inches / 5 cm in diameter and rise perhaps a quarter of an inch or 1 cm above the road surface. In Seattle, WA, however (and perhaps elsewhere) some truly turtle-sized ones are occasionally used, 2-3 times as big in both dimensions. (You do not want to run over this kind!)

There are also variants which have a trapezoidal cross-section, with reflectors built in. A few highly-enlightened highway departments will occasionally mount this kind in shallow grooves, with their tops flush with the road surface, meaning that you don't get the driving-by-braille effect, but also meaning that plows don't scrape them off, either.

(On a divided highway using the trapezoidal kind, the reflectors facing the wrong way are red. If you're ever driving along, not paying attention, and you notice that the lane-marker reflectors are all red, and you say to yourself, "Gee, I wonder why I've never noticed that before?", it's because you've never been driving the wrong way before. Pull off or turn around immediately!)

I was amused one day on a Southern California freeway to see some road turtles actually being installed. There was a highway department worker riding in a highway department go-kart scooting along and sticking them down with dollops of epoxy. Evidently the go-kart is the right tool for the job, and I still get a kick out of contemplating the fact that CALTRANS owns a few of what I would otherwise have assumed were exclusively toys for teenage boys.

The poor things are so slow. It's their nature to take things easy. It's the way you can treat life when you have a home. The problem is, when you have your home with you, no matter where you are, it makes you a bit lazy about keeping up with the rest of the world. You're cruising along, day after every blessed day, and (any time you like) you just plop down and you're home again. Jiggity Jig.

Convenience has a price.

I see them on the road ~~ the wide, wide road ~~ and they have begun their journey to the other side. It's one step at a time.

Clop. . . . Clop . . . . Clop . . . .

I always swerve to miss them. And yet the memory is there as I drive away in my fast, fast vehicle. How could this poor thing ever make it to the other side? It would take half an hour. The chances are too strong against.

A few times, I've stopped and picked 'em up, when the highway was empty except for me, and put them back in the ditch on the side of the road. I imagine them looking at me with those rubbery necks and prehistoric eyes, saying in an old, old language,

"There is no need, my friend. Your people cannot hurt me."

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