I spend four hours a day worried I'm a bad reporter. That's followed by two hours at night wondering if I made any egregious errors. I don't need any help feeling bad about myself, so the email I got at 11 p.m. Tuesday in which the writer implored me to do a better job set me off.
I stormed out of my house for an angry midnight walk. About six blocks from my house, it dawned on me that I left my glasses on the kitchen counter, and my night vision isn't what it used to be. The trees swaying in the wind looked like the world was coming apart and absolute darkness would soon take over.
As I rounded a corner, a chorus of frogs emanated from a narrow greenway set between the rows of houses. I wondered if I would see one. That thought was pushed out of my mind when a gang of humpbacked raccoons — or incredibly small black bears — trotted into the street in front of me and stopped. They were likely in town because it was garbage night, a feast in every trash can.
The furry hooligans were staring at me. Even if I couldn't directly observe this, I knew it was true. I stopped and waited for them to scurry away. I wouldn't begin to know how to fight a raccoon, much less three or four. And these were Jefferson County raccoons, far more surly than the average Boulder raccoon.
They ran into a cul-de-sac, and as I passed, I heard the tell-tale clicking noise. I shuddered and sauntered on.
Out on the main drag, I crossed back and forth and occasionally walked on the median to avoid the city-run sprinklers spraying water anywhere except on the grass. Someone was shining a flashlight into a large cypress tree in a yard that backed up against the road, and as I walked by it occurred to me that a raccoon might be waiting to leap from the tree and onto my head.
"Settle down, John," I said to no one. "You're being paranoid."
To avoid the possible raccoon air raid and the snarling dog in the next yard, I crossed the street again, and a gentle breeze pushed the stench of a nearby chain restaurant into my nostrils. A pack of millennials in the parking lot of the restaurant argued about who was riding shotgun.
I walked a few more blocks, and my night lit up in red and blue. Was I being raptured? No, it was an Arvada police officer pulling over the pack of millennials. Nice work, officer, but can you take the lights down a notch? Your vehicles look like a Lite Brite having an seizure.
As I passed the traffic stop, I noticed that the car was not, in fact, occupied by the pack of millennials but a lonely, 45-year-old divorcee. At least, that was what she looked like from the sidewalk.
I made it home, ate a sandwich, read on the couch and slept poorly.