Learned helplessness.
  April 22, 2005

In front of my apartment building this morning, as I hurry to catch the train to work,—a dying squirrel.  There's a road before the front steps, a busy narrow street with roaring cars.  I see the squirrel squatting by the curbside as I wait for a gap in traffic to let me cross.  He sits still and patient, even though I'm only three paces away.  The wheels of passing cars miss him by inches.  This stillness makes me give a second look; then, without thinking, I exclaim “Oh!”.  There is blood on his front paws, and blood dribbles from the tiny panting mouth onto the asphalt.  He wheezes and coughs in sporadic feeble heaves.  I am overcome with the urge to pick him up and carry him onto the sidewalk, away from the cars that very soon will kill him.  Then I realize that should I attempt that, he will bite me.  I stare helplessly for two more seconds, then cross the street and walk past the hospital to the train station, shaking my head.

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