Saturday, January 29, 2005

Pay it forward...


This morning has been crazy with a capital "C". I'm sorry for the length, but it's necessary.

I walked out of the building, headed toward my truck ready to head home from Harrisburg. I look to my left and I see an elderly lady driving very slowly toward me honking her horn erratically.

There is another elderly lady trailing behind her on foot. My first thought was that the lady in the car was coming to pick up someone and had honked the horn to notify them that she was here. By the time the two ladies reached me, I was to my truck and had the door open. The lady was continuing to honk. She stopped in front of my truck and rolled her window down.

"Have you seen her? " she asked in a panic. By this time the lady on foot had arrived.

"I'm sorry. Seen who?" I replied. The lady on foot chimed in. "Patti."

"She's a little black poodle", the woman in the car added, very worried.

You could tell from the tone of her voice that she lived alone and that her only companion was her black poodle Patti. Apparently, as the lady on foot stopped by to visit the lady in the car, Patti had bolted out the door.

"No mam, I'm sorry I... THERE! RIGHT THERE!" Patti darted out of the of the tree line and down the sidewalk away from us. She began honking the car horn again.

She informed me that Patti knows the cars honk and usually follows it. I watched as Patti explored the area around her, still within sight, but too far to yell to. Patti was fast and nimble. Looking back now, I can honestly say I think Patti had some greyhound in her. Man, was she fast. I knew that neither one of these ladies, who were both over 70 were ever going to catch this dog. I also knew that not two blocks from here was a major road and the chances of her getting hit by a car were very high if she wandered that way.

I threw my paperwork in the truck and asked the two ladies if they minded staying here, between the major road and Patti. They were very gracious and thankful that I had decided to join the hunt. In my dress shoes, dockers, and a tie I zeroed in on the elusive Patti and headed her way. About halfway to her she noticed me coming for her and began to plan her next move. It was man versus beast. Winner takes all.

Patti proudly walked a little further away from me and decided to stop by a nearby dumpster and investigate. When she took her eyes off of me I ducked between the two buildings like a ninja! This was a challenge now. And I was determined to win. (Plus I had a long drive ahead of me and wanted to get home)

As stealthy as I could be in dress shoes, I snuck around the back of the building and peered around the furthest corner at the dumpster. No Patti? Hmm. Still in stealth mode, I rounded the corner and approached the dumpster. It was surrounded by a 6 foot tall white picket fence with an open front. Still no Patti. I looked to my right and I could see the elderly ladies parked motioning me toward the dumpster. They were yelling something. I couldn't hear them. All of a sudden, something in the dumpster moved. It startled me and I jumped back a step. There was Patti, as happy as could be playing in amongst the garbage. She had crawled in through one of the two open side doors. I quickly shut the one side to seal her in and force her to come out through my side.

Do you think Patti was coming out without a fight? Uh-uh. Patti wasn't mean. No, she never even barked. She was just uber-playful. I called, I whistled, I made that schnicking noise with my mouth that you make when you want an animal to come. Nothing. I motioned the ladies to join me, perhaps the owner would be more successful. After 25 minutes of the owner trying I was getting a little irritated with Patti. At first it was funny, but now the fun had worn off and I wanted to go home. Now.

I took off my coat, took a deep breath, opened the opposite side door, and climbed on in. The two ladies gasped. Lucky for me, most of the trash was in the form of boxes, but you could tell that the dumpster hadn't always been used for that. Patti back into a corner and looked at me like "HA-HA, look what I made you do!"

I grabbed Patti's collar and escorted her to the front of the dumpster where her owner was waiting. The woman's face lit up with a smile and for a second I thought she was going to cry as she hugged her. She didn't care how dirty Patti was, or that she smelled like garbage. She had her companion back. Safe.

I exited my dumpster dive, the ladies thanked me about a hundred times, and I was on my way. Smell and all. As I headed toward the parking lot and my truck, a lady was opening the hood of her car. She looked lost. Then she looked at me.

"Is everything ok?"

"I think my battery's dead. I left my lights on."

"I have jumper cables, do you want a jumpstart?"

"oh, thank God, yes please. I'm from Florida, I'm not used to this weather."

I couldn't figure out what that had to do with leaving her lights on but hey, whatever floats your boat. As I hooked cables to her car I was careful to explain that there was a reason I had a slight stench, and that I really do bathe. She laughed and said that I was just in the wrong place at the wrong time today. I told her it was the "story of my life". I closed her hood told her she was set to go.

"Do I owe you anything?" she asked.

"No, just have a safe trip home."

I got in my truck.

Smell and all.

And I drove home feeling good about what I had done.