Revenge of the squirrels

Like The Happening, it started in Central Park:

Somebody hates Central Park cyclists so much that they are waging war on them with the ultimate weapon — thumbtacks!

A mysterious pedal protester caused a tire massacre last week by sprinkling a slew of tiny tacks across the Park Drive during the peak morning riding period, The Post has learned.

The New York Post supposes that a single ‘pedal protestor’ is responsible for the attacks, but I’m here to report that there might be more than one perp: and you can identify them by their big, bushy tales.

It might seem crazy to suggest that squirrels are responsible for scattering thumbtacks in a bike lane, but in case you had any doubt about the coming squirrelpocalypse, check out the NYPD’s stated priorities. The takeover climbs all the way to the highest branch:

“We have more important things to worry about, like people getting shot and squirrels getting run over,” said one cop. “A flat tire is not the crime of the century.”

They may be squirrels, but it’s not hard to understand their motives:  From Ender’s Game to The Hunger Games – that’s a wider spread if you go chronologically rather than by title – squirrels have gotten the short end of the spit. And while it’s not evidence I’d feel comfortable citing after law school, I know from personal experience that nowhere do squirrels have it worse than on the bike paths.

It was the second semester of my senior year at Penn. I had just departed my last final, and was riding along the eastern edge of the Quad, when a squirrel challenged me to a race. It ran parallel to my front wheel for a few seconds before darting through my spinning tires. I felt a bump, but didn’t have the heart to look back.

After a few minutes at Van Pelt, I found myself again passing the site of the incident; this time, I mustered the fortitude for a brief investigation. Fifteen minutes had already passed, and I was relieved to see no sign of squirrel – until, that is, I looked closer and noticed a tiny splash of blood. Then another. I made my way to the nearest trash can, and from amidst the assorted detritus – a beautiful bushy tail.

I understand that there is a certain amount of anti-squirrelatism at Penn. I don’t get it; I think they’re cute:

So even though I didn’t feel responsible for what had taken place, the experience was still traumatizing. I went home to work on my last assignment of the semester – it so happens that the paper I excerpted last Thursday was due the next day – and discovered that I could not actually concentrate. So I fired off an email to my professor:

This is going to sound stupid, but within moments of leaving my final today, I ran over a squirrel on my bike and have been sitting traumatized on my bed pretty much all day. I’m really sorry for taking forever on this.

Fortunately, he was understanding:

Sorry about the squirrel. Those things can be traumatic. Take the time you need to write the paper.

The squirrels, however, are not quite so forgiving. First they came for the tires…

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