January 31, 2014I was doing some fine dining at Fat Ivor's with my wife and Kim Harris the other day, whereupon I advised her I was taking some time off because of my hectic pace of doing next to nothing in retirement. I did, however, ask if she read the news story from a state legislator proposing that companies need to pay their workers for all time off, a form of sick leave. I told her I was feeling ill but I heroically decided to fight it off and show up for lunch.
Kim did not quite understand where this conversation about sick pay or sick leave was leading, so I caved it and said I'm taking this week off for sure, although I do have a story to tell. The story was self-serving and provincial, so I was reluctant to write it, but if she needed to fill space I could do it. Nobody wants to see a blank space or a promo ad on page two.
Quickly discerning that paid advertising was preferable but copy from an unpaid columnist was the next best alternative, Kim said to submit the copy. Filling space is still a high newspaper priority. It did kind of ruin my sick leave request for funds but oh, what the heck.
This is the story; I was driving through the security gate at the country club the other day and I saw a basset hound hanging out with the guards but keeping a distance, too. I told my friend Tim at the gate that I know that dog, his owner is about four or five houses away and I will go get him. I also told him that the dog did not belong outside the irongate.
When I knocked on the owner's door, a man appeared in a t-shirt and pajama bottoms. I said hop in my car, your dog is roaming near the 76 freeway. When we reached gate at Hwy. 76 the dog named Curtis was strolling down the middle of the busy road on an exploration trip, having no part of guys in uniform trying to corral him.
I turned left, straddled the center line and started honking. Curtis paid no attention, of course. But the oncoming cars did. So did an alert big rig driver coming east to west. It was getting tense, so finally the owner had me stop the car. I straddled the mid-lane, defying traffic, and the owner hopped out and yelled for his dog about 30 yards up ahead.
I tried not to think about what a man in bright pajama bottoms might be doing on busy Hwy. 76, at least in the eyes of automobile drivers. However, the strategy worked. The cars slowed to a crawl and Curtis looked at his master from afar and seemed to say, "What's happening big guy, I'm having fun here. Why are you dressed like that?"
"Bad Curtis," the man yelled. I agreed.
We made a U-turn on a dirt road, slowly drove back through the gate, made thumbs up gestures to the guards, and headed back to safety. Curtis was indifferent; the owner was agitated but very thankful. As for me, I drove home, waved to the Mrs. and immediately started petting my dog Maizy.
I saw Curtis a few days later walking with the owner and I stopped to say hello. Curtis had run from the guards but he seemed rather interested in the man with the red car who pulled alongside, which was me. I think he knew I was the guy who wrecked his Wonderful Freeway Adventure but also was seemed like a dog-loving kind of guy. That made me happy. Curtis and I are buds now.
P.S. Kim was rather taken aback by the shortness of this column. I felt badly for her so I vowed never to upset her again. I'll do better next time, whenever that might be. Right now I'm on sick leave, a payable condition if there ever was one.