Crossing the Border

A colleague of mine was recently on a road trip in Alabama. He was headed to a town north of Atlanta GA and stopped halfway for gas.

“Hey, you got a cat in there?” the guy next to him at the pump asked.

“Huh?” my colleague said.catintheengine

“There’s definitely a cat…open your hood,” the guy said.

Sure enough there was a kitten lying on top of the battery. It got up and scrambled into the engine somewhere. That’s when eight people tried for 45 minutes to rescue it, but it eluded them.

My colleague had a meeting he had to get to on time, so he closed the hood and kept driving.

Another 100 mcapturediles at 75-miles an hour he got to his hotel, and turned off the engine. He could hear the kitten crying. He drove to the local tire store where the guys spent a half hour taking the car apart, and after chasing a frantic kitten around the engine, they finally captured it.

That kitten deserves a medal for its bravery, tenacity and powerful will to live. One of the guys felt the same way. He took it home to his wife.

Calvin says, “Stupid cats. No dog in his right mind would travel like that.”  beagle

Wow

September 21 was World Gratitude Day. I completely missed it. Probably because I was grumbling. It’s my default mode.

Alf and I were on vacation in Ashland, Oregon at the Shakespeare Festival that week. One night we saw Sully, the Clint Eastwood movie. I can say I was grateful I wasn’t on that heart-stopping flight. You forgot it was Tom Hanks. He was Captain Chesley Sullenberger making life decisions in that pilot’s seat and you were right there next to him.

I was grateful to have seen the best Hamlet and Richard II ever. They rivaled anything you’d see on Broadway. fullsizerender-28

On the drive home we came to a snarl of traffic on the highway. “Now what?” Alf said. “Probably an accident,” the know-it-all in me said.  As we inched closer we noticed a full grown deer splayed dead blocking the four lanes. The lines of cars sat there with engines idling. “Now what?” Alf said again. This time I didn’t have a response.

Suddenly a car closest to the dead animal veered off to the right. The driver, a tall, strong muscled man, got out, his wife too, and he ran across the highway and grabbed the 120 pound animal by the front legs and dragged it to the left side of the road and left it there in a heap. Then he ran back to his car and got in. Nobody honked thank you. Nobody waved. Nothing. In a flash the traffic started up again and began rushing past the deer without any thought to what just happened. Stunning.

I was thankful for that man who took the initiative in front of oncoming traffic. Fortunately the drivers in the front lines acted as a blockade otherwise who knows what carnage could have transpired with man and beast.

Calvin says, “How gutless of the driver that killed him to drive off like that leaving others to pick up the mess. If this had happened in the woods, my tribe of beagles would have surrounded the beast and howled for help.”  beagle

A Marathon of Our Own

This last Sunday Alf and I had a Bay to Breakers experience of our own.

We drove into the city where Alf dropped me off at work while he went to the beach to wait until I was finished. It was the Bay to Breakers marathon run with the city streets swollen with more cars and traffic and he was anxious about parking. But he got lucky and was able to find a spot a block away from the ocean, in a good neighborhood, on that sunny morning with a cool breeze.

An hour and a half later, he called.

“The car’s been stolen,” he said out of breath. “I’ve looked everywhere.”

“Call the cops,” I said. IMG_0130

He did. They told him every officer in the city was on duty for the run and nobody was available to come and take a report. Would he please go to the nearest police station?

That police station was more than two miles away.

Alf walked there while I finished my work and then a colleague dropped me off.

The station was in a relic of a building, well preserved, but institutional and cold inside. By the time I arrived Alf was finishing up with the report.

“We’ll call you if we find your car,” the police officer said with pity in her eyes.

Not likely. It’s probably on its way to Tijuana.

I made a quick mental inventory of the things left in the car and concluded I could live without them. Alf, on the other hand, was going to miss his cool dark glasses, his jacket, and the Fastrak tag. With that alone the thief could crisscross every bridge in California on our dime.

We called our insurance company, they sprung for a car rental, and we drove home.

An hour later Alf got the call.

“We found your car. You have 20 minutes to come get it otherwise we take it to the impound lot. Make sure you get a release form from the police station where you filed the report.” Click.

So off we went back into the city, back to the police station to get the form. By now it was 9 o’clock at night.

From there we drove to the impound lot, or tried to. It was impossible to find for the first hour. Then we spotted it. It was tucked under the freeway in a darkened lot. We walked in. Another woman in the waiting area was talking loudly on her cell phone.

“My car was stolen and I’m waiting for the police to get here so I can get it back,” she said.

We wondered how many other cars were stolen that day. It must have been good pickings with all the runners and tourists in town.

We showed the release form to the clerk at the counter. She examined it, then went to her computer screen, then frowned.

“You need a stamp on this,” she said.

“A what?” I said. This reminded me of life in Mexico. Did we need to slip her some money?

“Without the stamp we can’t release your car,” she said.

It was now 10:30 at night. I wanted to come around to her side and strangle her.

“Where do we get this stamp?” Alf said holding me back with his arm.

“A police station,” she said.

“There’s a perfectly good one right across the street,” I said.

“That won’t work, you’ll have to go to this one,” she said as she slipped a piece of paper across the counter to us. “Not all police stations have the stamp.”

Now I was convinced we were in another country.

The piece of paper gave us directions for walking, driving or taking public transportation there.

We climbed into the rental and followed the driving directions. What looked like a quick trip across town on paper turned into a nightmare of going in circles of barricaded and one-way streets. It took us another hour to spot the station. I stayed in the car and locked myself in. It felt like I was in a war zone. Alf went in and came back with the famous stamp on the release paper.

We returned to the impound lot, handed over the release paper, and got processed quickly. We walked through an outside fenced-in corridor that looked like it belonged in a high-security prison and stopped at a closed gate. A security guard appeared, we handed him the release paper, and he unlocked the gate and escorted us to our car.

We stood there amazed.

Nothing was missing inside. Not a scratch on the outside either.

The guard shook his head.

“That doesn’t happen,” he said. “Usually it’s just a shell.”

It was midnight now. I climbed back into the rental to return it to the airport, the only office still open. Alf followed me in our car.

We drove home in silence with a ton of questions and no answers in both our heads.

Calvin says, “Next time come into the city on roller blades.” beagle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How To Make Spaghetti Sauce With Your Dog

Alf and I went to the organic food market to find sun dried tomatoes without preservatives. We found them high on the last shelf. You needed to be a giraffe to spot them. Imported from Italy, of course. Why can’t Americans do this? Meanwhile, there were plenty of other brands on lower shelves within easy reach. Those were floating in olive oil and chemicals.

“That reminds me of a story when I was a child,” the clerk at the check-out said as he bagged our purchase. “Our Pekinese had a fascination with the tomatoes my mother grew in the back yard. Every summer one by one he’d pluck off a ripe tomato and deposit it in the back yard. He did this until all the tomatoes were off the vines. My mother found them shriveled up in the sun, and that’s how we made our own sun dried tomatoes.”

“Hey, you know, that’s not a bad idea,” Alf said when we climbed into the car. “Can we train Calvin to do that?”

“It’s got to be his idea.”

“We could make it his idea,” Alf said as we pulled out of the parking space.

“How do we do that?”

“We spray the tomato plants with some irresistible odor that will drive him wild and he’ll attack the tomatoes.”

“Calvin doesn’t have a dainty mouth like a Peek. He’d snatch and smash,” I said.

“I could train him to have a gentle bite,” Alf said.

“His jaws would crush everything. You’d have spaghetti sauce instead.”

“Hmm. We do have basil and oregano growing…”

Calvin says, “I heard that. I’m not Italian. There’s no flipping way you’re going to teach me that trick.”

Quit Your Bleeping Beep!

Alf has a beeping contest with our neighbors.

Every morning when they leave the house, they unlock the car and it beeps.

At night when they return home, sometimes quite late, they lock the car and it beeps.

Alf matches them beep for beep. Instead of two beeps, it’s four with his, and more on the weekends.

When we leave and come home, he beeps.

“Trying to make a point,” he said.

This has been going on for months.

“Is your point poking them yet?” I asked.

“I’m hoping they’ll get the hint and disengage the beep. It disturbs the neighborhood,” he said.

“You mean it disturbs you,” I said.

“They have no manners. They’re unaccustomed to American ways.”

“You mean they’re uncivilized.”

“They’re selfish,” he said.

“Why don’t you talk to them?”

“Wouldn’t help.”

“Why not?”

“Have you ever been to their country? The noise level is deafening 24-hours a day. They’re used to it. What’s a beep here or there to them?”

“But they’re not there, they’re here, and you’re irritated by the noise,” I said.

“I’ll keep beeping. I want to see where this takes us,” he said.

Calvin says, “This is so childish. I’d go over there and pee on their tires.”