Turtles and Responsibility

This Christmas, I was sitting with my Mom in the basement watching some TV and enjoying some quality family bonding time.

As my Mom gets up to head upstairs for something, she looks at me and asks:turtle2

“Do you want a turtle?”

I look right at her and answer, very matter-of-fact:

“No thanks, I don’t want the added responsibility.”

Ends up it wasn’t a living, breathing turtle she was talking about but a turtle–the caramel/pecan/chocolate-y treat that I should have known she was referring to.

How sad is it my gut reaction to being offered a turtle is it would be too much responsibility?  It’s a turtle for God’s sake!  Not a puppy, not a cat, not even a hamster.  It has a hard shell if I were to drop it, it doesn’t move too fast in case it gets loose . . . but somehow that is too much for me?  Ridiculous.

Then there is the other side of my relationship with responsibility, also illustrated by a . . . turtle story.


This summer, I was driving home from work when I saw a turtle in the middle of the exit ramp off the highway.  No one was behind me, so I came to a complete stop to avoid hitting it.  When I stopped, I noticed it was a snapping turtle.  At this point, I was conflicted:  do I leave it there, or do I risk injury to “turtle shuffle” it?

I tried to call my grandma to see what the protocol was for moving a ferocious snapping turtle across the road.  No answer.  I looked behind me and saw a car coming.  It was now or never.  What did I do?  I snapped a quick picture and sped on my way, leaving the helpless turtle in the middle of the road.

All night long, my thoughts returned to the snapper–did he make it across that road?  Was he safe?  Would I have to pass by his corpse the next day?

I never saw that turtle again, but it continued to haunt me.

The next week, I went with my family down to southern Indiana, a place where there are hundreds of turtles.  As we are driving the windy, back country roads I told my Dad he had to stop if we saw a turtle so I could save it.  I felt the weight of the world upon me, telling me it was now my duty to save a turtle to make up for the one I didn’t help.

I didn’t get my chance.  We passed one, and my Dad didn’t stop.  We found one on a walk, but it was dead.  Then it flooded and the turtles were having an easier time crossing the road than us humans were.  Karma?  I think so.

Basically, when it comes to responsibility, I can’t win.  I either seek to avoid it if at all possible, or I go overboard and feel it is my duty to do everything/save everything.  I can’t win.

I guess the best solution is to continue as is:  keep paying my bills, keep up my personal hygeine, and don’t get a turtle.

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One thought on “Turtles and Responsibility

  1. Candice says:

    We were just discussing turtles last night: specifically baby sea turtles and how adorable they are and how much more adorable they would be as baby sea kittens.

    But no, you shouldn’t get a turtle. Cats are very little responsibility though…unless they get diabetes.

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