The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Tuesday October 26th

The Buck Stops Here -- Why Life Is So Deer

I'm talking about Oct. 9, 2001-- a magnet to the hard drive of our complacency. And probably most of us heard nothing about it.

Here's what happened: At about 1 p.m., an 8-point buck walked from Kenan Street, down Franklin Street and then choose to bypass the open door and leap through the plate glass store front of Paint the Earth, a make-your-own pottery place located on West Franklin Street.

Apparently it burst through the window with a sound "like a bomb," said owner Barry Slobin. The deer shook off the broken glass and then trotted out the back door of the store, maneuvering through a maze of fragile pottery without breaking even one, then headed towards Breadmen's Restaurant on Rosemary Street.

I'll quote Dave Barry in saying "I am not making this up."

There are still so many unanswered questions. For example, why would an animal with no (I assume) table manners or opposable thumbs have a burning desire to make his own high-gloss cereal bowl?

I can just see it: "For the love of God! I simply must hand-paint a bud vase right now!" Who gets that passionate about personalized, dishwasher-safe gifts, as nice as they are? I always thought that sentiment was reserved for die-hard Martha Stewart and Christopher Lowell fans.

I think the situation is incredible. Why didn't we hear about it? Seems like there should have been a screaming headline in the DTH, but nary a word was written. That beast was raising hell, Bambi-style. How can the redistricting debate continually snag a spot on our front page when there is rampaging wildlife to be covered?

There's only one thing I know to do in a situation like this.

Make it into a metaphor about life.

Like the forest deer boldly strutting through our urban center, we too should venture out of our comfort zones. We need to smash through the plate-glass windows of our limitations, trot past our store of troubles, exit out the back door of our regrets and head toward the Breadmen's of expanded horizons. We can learn a lot from going out of our usual environment.

Slobin, the owner of Paint the Earth, said the deer "wasn't angry but a little confused and afraid." He continued to say that he could tell "it wasn't going to hurt (him)." The deer, obviously out of its environment and untrained in ceramic painting, chose to take the calm, moral high ground by adjusting to the new situation and acting intelligently and nonviolently. He took a giant leap of faith (literally and figuratively) and was left perturbed but unhurt -- a better mammal for it.

Slobin, amazingly enough, did not even close his store and had a new window within three hours. The deer and the owner were placed in a decidedly surreal situations, and both rose to the occasion. The deer found his own way out without causing extensive damage, and Slobin used some "creative retailing" to keep the event from becoming a problem -- decorating his window with a sign proclaiming "The Buck Stops Here." See, we can learn from this.

His thoughts on the meeting of man and beast? "It's just a culture clash," Slobin said.

He described how he did not corral the deer or influence it to leaving out the front door but respected its needs and allowed it to exit out the back. It's a perfect example of diverse groups getting along with ease.

We've established that leaving one's comfort zone is a fast-track way to personal betterment. What can we do here at UNC? Our chancellor runs like a panicked deer from student input in major decisions (Did I just say that?) -- perhaps he could step out of his comfort zone a bit. And so could the rest of us.

What did the deer learn from its ordeal? I assume it got a first-hand tour of our urban jungle, broke through the glass ceiling (wall anyway) and realized that to respect others was the only way to go.

I'd say in the great smorgasbord buffet of life, the Franklin Street buck had a heaping helping of wisdom paella and pan-fried enlightenment.

I'll be having the venison.

Erin Fornoff is frozen in front of some car headlights. Reach her at

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