As I am sure it is apparent by now, I like to get good deals – and I enjoy it even more if I can get things for free. But, believe it or not, even I have my limits. There are just some lines I will not cross, and I know the perfect story to tell you to demonstrate this fact.
When my husband, Rob, and I had been married for about 3 or 4 months, we were living in Manhattan, Kansas. Rob was in the Army, stationed at Ft. Riley, a post located about 30 minutes away from our apartment.
At that time in our life, Rob wasn’t home very often. In his early Army career, Rob always seemed to be “in the field” with his unit, or deployed somewhere, or just working late. I spent a lot of time alone in that apartment and a good deal of that time was spent worrying about him driving on the cold, and often icy, Kansas highway between Ft Riley and our home.
So, one winter evening about 13 years ago, as I waited for Rob to return from work, I spent time chatting on the phone with my best friend from childhood. As we caught up on each other’s lives, the call waiting beeped.
“Can you hold on?” I asked her, and when she agreed, I clicked over.
“Hello?” I said, half expecting it to be Rob.
“Good evening, Ma’am,” a man’s voice on the other end of the line said. “This is the Manhattan Police Department.”
I almost dropped the phone. My heart jumped into my throat. Had Rob been in a car crash? Was there an accident on post? My mind was racing a million miles a second.
“Yes?” I said, hesitantly.
“Someone has hit a deer with their car . . ."
I blinked hard. What did he say? Did Rob hit a deer?
“Excuse me?” I said slowly.
“Someone has hit a deer with their car and . . .”
A deer? Why was he calling me about a deer?
“We were wondering if you wanted to come get it.”
“Excuse me?” I said again. Clearly, I was missing something here.
“We wondered if you wanted to come get the deer.”
No, I hadn’t heard him incorrectly.
Maybe he thought he was calling Animal Control and had called me instead.
I said nothing.
“Ma’am, are you still there?”
“Yes,” I said.
“So, do you want it?”
“Do I want what?”
This conversation was getting weirder and weirder.
“Is it dead?” Maybe, if it wasn't, he thought I was a veterinarian and could nurse it back to health.
“Yes, it’s dead.”
Hmmm . . .
“And someone hit it with his car?”
“Yes,” he seemed be growing impatient with me.
So, I asked the only reasonable question I could think of at the moment.
“Why would I want a dead deer?”
I heard him rustling through some papers.
“Is this the home of Lieutenant Robert Seiler?”
“Yes.” So , now we were back to Rob. Maybe Rob had hit the deer after all.
“Well, he put your home down on the Road Kill List.”
He did what?
Did I hear this guy correctly?
The Road Kill list? What exactly was a Road Kill List?
Not realizing it, I must have asked those questions aloud because the cop responded to me.
“When someone hits a deer on the road with his or her car, we call the people on the list to come get the animal.”
And he was now calling me. Me.
Was this a joke? I looked around my kitchen. Was I on Candid Camera?
“What am I supposed to do with the deer?” I said hesitantly.
“I guess eat it, Ma’am.” He really seemed irritated with me.
A deer that had been hit by a car?
A deer they were now calling Road Kill?
I was supposed to eat it?
“Ma’am,” he said. “Do you want it or not? If you don’t, I’ll call the next person on the list.”
“Uhm . . .” I said, “No, I do not want it. You’d better call someone else.”
“Are you sure?” he asked. “If you don’t take this deer, then your name gets put at the bottom of the list and it’ll be awhile before we call you again.”
Was I sure? Had I ever been more certain of anything in my life?
“Officer, I am most certainly sure. Thanks anyway,” and I hung up the phone.
I don’t remember what ever happened to that conversation with my childhood friend. Maybe she’d hung up, tired of waiting for me to get back on the line. Maybe I clicked over to her and told her the crazy story about the bizarre phone call I’d just received.
What I do remember, however, is what happened that night when my husband came home.
“I got the weirdest call tonight,” I told him, as he walked in the door.
“Really, what?” he asked, taking off his Army boots.
“The police called and asked if I wanted a dead deer that someone had hit with their car.”
Rob looked up at me, all excited.
“Did you say we’d take it?”
This was not the reaction I’d been expecting.
Maybe he hadn’t heard me correctly.
“The cop said we were on the Road Kill List.” I said, pronouncing each word carefully.
“I know!” he said, smiling. “I put us on the list awhile ago but they’ve never before called. So, did you tell them we’d come and get it?”
And it was at that very moment, four or so months into our marriage, that I realized my husband and I were two completely different people.
“Did I tell him we’d come get it? Are you CRAZY?” I said, raising my voice. “He called it road kill! ROAD KILL! You married me and brought me to Kansas so I could eat road kill? Are you nuts!?”
“What’s the big deal?” he asked. “It’s no different than if I’d gone hunting and killed the deer myself.”
See, right there was another difference. I didn’t hunt. I didn’t even know anyone who hunted before I met Rob. And, I had certainly never eaten a deer.
Exasperated, I yelled, “I’m from New Jersey!” – as if that explained everything.
“What’s that got to do with it?” he asked.
“We don’t EAT road kill there!” I said, and stormed out of the room.
“Next time they call,” Rob called after me, “Tell them we’ll take take the deer!”
I slammed the bedroom door.
It took us a long time, as a couple, to live down that story. As a woman, I, of course, immediately called all of my girlfriends to complain. They, in turn, told their husbands – all fellow soldiers in Rob’s unit.
For months after that evening, we would come home to messages on our answering machine that said things like, “Hey, Rob. This is Mike. I’ve got 2 dead squirrels and a skunk in my backyard. Do you want to come get them?”
Very funny. Very funny.
Three years later, we moved to Texas. Fortunately, for me, Austin doesn’t have a Road kill List. Or, at least, if it does, in the ten years we've lived here, I have not been made aware of it.
And, if one does exist, please . . . please . . . do not tell my husband about it!
No one likes a free meal more than me.
But, there are some free meals that even I have to turn down!