Baby Squirrels

Have you ever seen a baby squirrel? Unless they come out of their eggs fully grown, I don’t believe I have, either.

I suppose it’s possible baby squirrels don’t leave their nests until they’re sufficiently hirsute and able to survive on their own. I suppose it’s equally possible they’re really shy and prefer not to be seen until they’re suitably bulked up. And for all I know, baby squirrels might be agoraphobic until they’re three or four years old. I might have to plant cameras in some of the nests I see in trees around the neighborhood to find out what’s going on.

I was thinking about baby squirrels the other day because I saw something else I’d never seen before. After driving my son, Sean, to Bradley International Airport to catch a flight home to Raleigh, I was driving back to my own home, headed south on I-91 just north of Hartford, when I saw a tractor-trailer with a fairly large sign on the back. The sign said, “Student Driver.”

My first inclination was to do what I do when I see a Buick older than a 2006 model. (Buick discontinued my father’s beloved LaSalle after 2005.) Given the fact that most older Buick models are driven by people born in the early 20th century, I do one of two things: If I’m on a rural road, a suburban road, or a metropolitan road, I slam on the brakes, power through a tire-screeching u-turn, and head in the direction opposite of that which the Buick is traveling. If I’m on an interstate highway, I pull off on the shoulder, turn on my emergency flashers, and wait until the Buick has (A) gotten far enough ahead of me that it’s no longer a threat to me or (B) already caused the crash it’ll inevitably cause.

A student driver behind the wheel of a MINI Cooper is a menace — a public nuisance and a safety hazard. A student driver behind the wheel of a tractor-trailer is a lethal catastrophe looking for a place to happen — a time bomb, the ticking of which you can’t hear, rolling inexorably toward an explosion.

But I have an idea for keeping the roads safe for all of us:

First of all, we have to be fair. Everyone has to learn to drive at some point. Some people even make their livings teaching other people how to drive. I was a student driver myself once. I even took Driver’s Education in high school to give my teacher, Mr. Perkins, a few opportunities to put me through the windshield by stomping on the brake with which the passenger side of the teaching car was equipped. (Seat-belt use wasn’t mandatory in those ancient days.)

We can, however, dramatically improve road safety by doing one simple thing — permit student tractor-trailer drivers and drivers of Buicks older than 2006 models to drive only on the Bonneville Salt Flats. That combination of drivers, even with 40 square miles of breathing room, will certainly produce some hideous crashes. But at least they’ll be out of our way. And we won’t have to bear witness to the flames, the twisted wreckage, the hideous screaming, the torrents of blood, or any other manifestations of motorized mayhem. After all, some of us have weak stomachs.

If we banish them to the Salt Flats, sightings of student tractor-trailer drivers and drivers of Buicks older than 2006 models might become as rare as sightings of baby squirrels.

If you don’t have dreams, all you have is nightmares.


Mark O'Brien
Mark O'Brien
I’m a business owner. My company — O’Brien Communications Group (OCG) — is a B2B brand-management and marketing-communication firm that helps companies position their brands effectively and persuasively in industries as diverse as: Insurance, Financial Services, Senior Living, Manufacturing, Construction, and Nonprofit. We do our work so well that seven of the companies (brands) we’ve represented have been acquired by other companies. OCG is different because our business model is different. We don’t bill by the hour or the project. We don’t bill by time or materials. We don’t mark anything up. We don’t take media commissions. We pass through every expense incurred on behalf of our clients at net. We scope the work, price the work, put beginning and end dates on our engagements, and charge flat, consistent fees every month for the terms of the engagements. I’m also a writer by calling and an Irish storyteller by nature. In addition to writing posts for my company’s blog, I’m a frequent publisher on LinkedIn and Medium. And I’ve published three books for children, numerous short stories, and other works, all of which are available on Amazon under my full name, Mark Nelson O’Brien.

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  1. In my experience, a baby squirrel (squirreling?) is almost the size of is parents when you first see it – except for the tail. It is a pipe cleaner. A thoroughly embarrassing piece of “have never been used as a winter duvet or to impress anybody.”

    What I have also seen was a squirrel attacking a hawk – evidently also a young bird (a hawkling?) – and winning the starring/screaming/outsmart you contest.

    Personally, I think it is very thoughtful when the student driver announces their ineptness with a sign on the back of the car/tractor-trailer. The only way to get used to having nervous drivers all around is to have nervous drivers all around, and how often is that not also the case after the permit/license is issued?
    I would not want to have a licensed driver on the road who has only driven on the salt flats – besides wouldn’t they be in the way out there of all the drivers who are trying to set world records in speed or are making TV commercials?

    • Charlotte, I don’t remember why, but during the late ‘70s, the price of peanuts went through the roof. The man I worked for at the time once went out at lunchtime and bought a 50-pound bag of peanuts. It must have cost him dearly. I asked him why he did such a thing. He said, “We’re feeding the ninth generation of squirrels in our yard. If we don’t give them peanuts, they start shredding the clapboards off our house.” I wouldn’t take on a hungry squirrel in a fight.

      Apparently, the Bonneville Speedway comprises two sections of the Bonneville Salt Flats. One is a 10-mile long straightaway for speed trials. The other is a 10- to 12-mile oval track for distance runs. I’m thinking a Jersey barrier could be erected to protect the Speedway from tractor-trailer students and Buick drivers. 😉

    • Thank you so much, Byron. I have no idea why my head is so full of disjointed nonsense. But as long as we’re having fun, everything seems to be okay. 😊