I’m a Skunk

by | May 9, 2015 | Acceptance, Judging, Prejudice

I pulled my car into the garage and stepped outside. It was a beautiful evening.

Stars sparkled in the dark sky, unusual for the area we lived then, which is close to the bright lights of Manhattan and Jersey City.

Instead of going inside, I walked around the corner, away from the streetlight. In the shadows, I looked up. Stars dotted the sky – more than I’d seen since I lived in Nova Scotia, where, free from city lights, the Milky Way cut a wide swath through the darkness overhead.

“Ginny needs to see this.” I thought and turned to go in. In my lower vision, in spite of the darkness, I noticed movement. I paused and looked down. A white line moved inches from my feet.

Fear caused me to hold my breath. The word, “Skunk!” Screamed in my head.

I stood still. “Don’t move a muscle! Maybe it will go away.” I thought to myself. The skunk strolled away from me and entered an area illuminated by the streetlight. I breathed a sigh of relief. It hadn’t seen me.

It was just a baby, maybe a foot long, but it doesn’t take much of a skunk to cause a huge stink. When I thought it was safe, I inched my way along the edge of the house, toward the corner and the safety of my garage.

I was a few feet from the corner when the skunk, who must have sensed me, turned in my direction. We both froze. “Shoo!!” I said, waving my hands. “Go away!” I said sternly, waving my hands at it again.

The young skunk, who apparently didn’t understand English, moved toward me. I backed up. “Sho, little fella. Go away!”

It turned and began to walk away, but as soon as I moved in the direction of the garage, it turned, and once again came at me. Before it got too close, I rounded the corner, and entered the lighted garage.

I peeked out. The little skunk was still coming. “Sho!” I said a final time and dashed to the door leading into the house. I hit the button beside door. The garage creaked and groaned as it closed. “That was close.” I thought to myself.

The next morning, when I came down stairs to get ready for work, Ginny said to me, “Mike, there’s something in the garage. I was down there. Something is scratching around in the corner by the recycling.”

“Skunk!” I said.

“It might be.”

“No! You don’t understand.” I told her the story about the young skunk who tried to attack me the night before. “I bet it followed me into the garage.”

We tip-toed down the steps and opened the door. The scratching came from the far corner of the garage. I reached out and hit the button. The garage door rumbled to life and slowly opened. Sunlight steamed in, lighting the corner where the noise came from. The scratching continued.

I inched toward the noise. It seemed to come from one of my blue recycling containers. I peeked inside. “Uh Oh!”

“What?” Ginny asked.

“I was right. It’s the skunk. It did follow me in. It must have climbed onto the boxes and fallen into the container. The sides are too high for it to get out.”

“What are you going to do?”

“I don’t know. I guess I’ll drag the container outside, roll it over and run.”

I stooped low, kept out of the skunk’s view and aim, and slowly dragged the container across the floor. Like a bomb squad member, trying to cause as little disturbance as possible, I pulled it out the door, across the driveway and into the grass.

“OK! Here we go.” I said to Ginny. I tipped the can on its side and ran back to the garage. Together we watched the skunk waddle out and begin to walk away.

“Michael, it’s just a baby. It’s so cute.”

“Cute? It’s a skunk. Can you imagine what the garage would smell like if it had squirted in there?”

“It’s just a baby. Maybe it wasn’t going to hurt you. You said it was coming at you. If it felt threatened, it would have turned and raised its tail. I think it wanted a friend.”

“You could be right, but I’m not sure I want to take the chance.” I replied.

“If you see it again, just stand there and see what it does.” Ginny said.

“You could be right.”

I never got the chance. A few weeks later, I was walking home from the store.

In the middle of the street was my little skunk. It tried to cross the street and been hit by a car.

With a heavy heart, I continued home. I’d never been sprayed by a skunk and don’t know of anyone who has been. My fear of the little skunk came from stories I’d heard and read. Without any personal experience with skunks, I had a prejudice, which caused me to be afraid of them. The little skunk was too young to have a fear of humans.

It was on its own that night and wanted a friend.

It made me wonder, how many times in my life have I turned my back on someone because of a prejudice created by what others thought?

“Don’t play with him. He’s nothing but trouble.” My friends said.

“I’d stay away from her. She stole my pencil.” A classmate warned.

“He’s strange. He never talks to anyone.” A co-worker said about another.

Those words caused me to be prejudice. Maybe the trouble maker was really calling out for attention. Maybe they needed a friend. The girl who stole the pencil may have been from a poor family and couldn’t afford a new one to replace one she lost.

The co-worker actually turned into a great friend. He was just very shy.

The little skunk was in this world for only a short time, but he changed me. I no longer let the things people say about another to cloud my judgment. I put all prejudices aside and give people the chance to show me who they are. And if anyone ever calls me a skunk, I’m going to take it as a compliment, because maybe I’m just looking to be their friend.

Michael T. Smith heartsandhumor@gmail.com


I’m a Skunk