Baby Raccoon on the Metro

I was on a Green Line train on my way home. Our train stopped at Fort Totten, and some girls, clearly tourists, who had boarded with their family at L’Enfant Plaza, spotted a baby raccoon on the wall next to our car. They were charmed, as young girls would be, at such a cute little baby animal, taking pictures of it and all, but then they lost interest in it when it fell off the wall, under the train. I was horrified that it had fallen, and I got off at the next stop and caught the next southbound train back to Fort Totten. I was able to find the little guy on the tracks, and he was going back and forth, crying and fairly helpless. He was tottering back and forth — I couldn’t tell if he was just too young to walk straight yet or if he was maybe injured somehow.

I asked the next train driver if there was anything he could do to help. He directed me to a supervisor, who said they wouldn’t do anything. So then I tried the station manager. Then another Metro worker. Then another. I called Dawn to get the number for the Washington Animal Rescue League, but she volunteers with them and said that she knew that they didn’t do wild animals. She gave me the number for DC Animal Control instead. I called them and they said they might send somebody but they might not. Jesus, would nobody would help this poor little thing?

I fretted and paced and waited while train after train came through, but nobody else came to help. So I emptied out my backpack, thinking maybe if I could get down there I could put the little guy in it and somehow get him back to the grass over the other wall. I waited until a train came through and the big board said it would be six minutes until the next one. I jumped down from the platform onto the tracks and went over to try and rescue him. He was crouched under the high voltage rail, of all places. I grabbed him by the back of the neck, hoping he’d go limp like a kitten and let me pick him up. But instead he tensed all up and started screaming and bared his teeth, so I got scared and let him go. It was only then that I noticed how bloody his front paw was, how hurt he was. I was afraid to touch him again, though, so I climbed back up on the platform.

There’s a camera right there, so very close to where I jumped down. I was sure that sirens would go off, that the station manager would come over the loudspeaker and scream at me to cease & desist, that passengers on the platform would start yelling, that something would happen anyway. But nothing. There was a woman nearby kinda watching me, but she didn’t say anything until I came back up to the platform. She said maybe she saw sparks shooting from the raccoon’s tail when I touched it, like maybe it had touched the high voltage rail or something, but I have my doubts about her seeing any such thing. Surely hope not anyhow.

Around this time too some other raccoons arrived on the scene, an adult and two equally young pups, from up the hill, the same general direction from where this one had fallen down onto the tracks. They were all chattering, maybe calling to each other. Every so often one of the other babies would climb up towards the wall from where the one fell, and I’d groan and yell and tell them to get off there. Would another one of them fall? The adult, the mother I assumed, kept grabbing these by the neck and trying to carry them back up the hill, but she could only take one at a time, and the other would cry or try to climb up to the same precarious wall.

Animal Control called me back, and then I called them back. I kept asking when some agent would arrive, but he was coming from the other side of the city, apparently, and was stuck in traffic. And after all this time I was a nervous wreck, worried about the already poor hurt raccoon on the tracks and scared that one of the other ones was going to climb up and fall as well. I finally had to admit defeat and run away. I boarded the next Green Line train that came into the station and went home.

I called Animal Control again later, from home, talking to the same woman I’d been speaking with before. She didn’t have any news. She said that she’d have probably heard from the agent if he couldn’t find the raccoon on the tracks, so maybe that’s some good news. She said she was working again tomorrow afternoon, and I told her I’d call her back then.

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