The Samaritan and the Two-by-Four

So I was driving off to Food Lion to get some quarters to do laundry, and as I rounded a curve by the duck pond in my apartment complex, I slammed on my brakes, threw on the hazards, and jumped out of the car.

Sitting about a third of the way into the road was a very large turtle. The alligator-like tail and serrated back of the shell indicated that this was, in fact, a snapping turtle.

Now, I can and have picked up sliders by the shell, even quite large sliders, and helped them across the street in times of turtle adversity. Some mistakes, however, I don’t have to make, and grabbing a snapping turtle is one of them. I like having all my fingers. I would be sad without them.

I gazed at the turtle. Had it been on the move, I would have acted as a flagger until it got across the street, but the turtle apparently had decided that the road was its rock and it was going to sun itself, goddamnit.


The standard method of transporting a snapping turtle requires either a shovel or a crowbar. I have neither in the trunk.* Maybe if I grabbed it really really far back on the shell? No, no…crazy talk…

I got out my phone. Who to call, who to call…Jason’s my go-to guy for weird crises, but I don’t know if he does reptiles. Badger? Hmm, Badger probably knows the mystic Chelonian Word that causes all members of the tortoise clan to follow docilely along at one’s heels…do I have Badger’s number? No. Damn. Well, Kevin’s working for the government, he probably knows how to herd turtles by now…

While I was dithering, one of the little golf carts that the apartment staff drive pulled up, and a man jumped out. “Ah!” he said. “Turtle!” (English is not the strong suit of most of our maintenance staff. They are all very friendly however, and as the narrative will soon show, kind to turtles in need.)

“Do you have a shovel?” I asked hopefully.

He shook his head, and grabbed a two-by-four out of the back. He poked the turtle.

Swear to god, the thing JUMPED. It levitated like three inches in the air, whipped around, and bit for the board. Hissing. I didn’t know turtles could DO that.

I was exceptionally glad that I had not tried to grab it by the shell.

With the aid of the two-by-four, the maintenance guy herded, chivvied, shoved, and rolled the turtle across the road, while I watched for traffic. I might have protested the roughness of the handling, but then the turtle actually got ahold of the two-by-four, and while it didn’t actually splinter the board, it came damn close. I closed my mouth.

In about a minute, the turtle was safely in the grass on the other side of the street, near the duckpond. The maintenance guy made shooing motions at it and gave it instructions in Spanish. The turtle hissed grumpily at him, but appeared none the worse for wear. Ingrate.

I thanked him profusely, he waved it off, grinning and hopped back in his golf cart.

Upon my return from Food Lion, I went looking, but our shelled friend had apparently made it into the duckpond. The Canada geese were standing around looking nonplussed. The latest crop of goslings seem rather numerically light, which leads me to wonder if it’s not just the foxes getting them.

And a passer-by on a bike tried to get my name and phone number while I was scouting for the turtle, but that’s really neither here nor there.

*For this I fail D&D Adventuring 101. Rocks fall, everybody dies, roll up a new artist.

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