Just when you think that your neighbor is a troll, a living breathing troll in disguise, you discover that the neighborhood is populated with all sorts of good creatures too.
This morning I had an adventure — me — Opie’s mom.
I took Opie in the car with us to school. I had just dropped off the boys and picked up a sausage sandwich and coffee from the local fast food place. I turned out of the strip mall parking lot. My window was down and my music was low or would never have heard him.
I saw a big reddish-brown dog running flat-out down the sidewalk on the opposite side of the street. This was Jefferson Boulevard. It is a 4 lane divided street. It has a landscaped center median and room for parking on both sides of the divided street. It is a main artery that runs through Los Angeles, Playa Del Rey and Culver City. It is an extremely busy street all the time, and it was 8:15 AM.
“Come back , you stupid dog.” The man yelled.
A man was running flat-out as fast has he could down the sidewalk. He was running after his dog. The dog was moving fast. I was already in the street when the dog left the safety of the sidewalk and crossed the median. He was heading for the intersection of Jefferson and Overland; Overland is equally heavy in the morning.
“Oh God..please” The man yelled. I could hear the break in his voice, and I could feel my eyes welling up with tears.
I slowed to a crawl. So did the lady in the Camry beside me. The dog was up ahead at the median, next to the left turn lane. A man in a convertible Mercedes was stopped half way in the lane. He opened his car door to coax the dog in. We were all stopped. Traffic piled up behind us. The dog was startled and ran to the other side of the median into the street. He was right in front of my car for a millisecond and then he high tailed it into the into the other strip mall on the corner. The dog owner was out of breath, his face red and grim. He slowed his run to a walk and followed the dog to the big strip mall parking lot. He looked a little hopeless to me. He’d run flat about for at least two blocks. Breathing hard, sweat running down his face on this cold morning, he stopped briefly and bent a little at the waist to catch his breath then he continued on.
This is Raintree Shopping plaza. It has a big supermarket, a Denny’s and lots of parking. It’s not too full, not too busy. I have to turn right to go home. My heart is beating fast. I don’t want the dog to be hurt. I don’t want to start my morning this way. I don’t want to see a tragedy. I turn right and then right again into the shopping mall. I must help this man. I can’t do much. Opie’s in the car. He might bark and make things worse, but I am compelled to see what’s going on. People are going and coming, getting in and out of their cars. I stop a man who is observing something.
“Has the man found his dog yet?” I ask.
“No, they’re over there!” He responds. Sure enough, the man and two other men who have joined him are trying to get the dog. He’s just not coming to his name.
Suddenly, I remember that I’ve got a sausage sandwich in the car.
I parked the car. I forgot to turn it off. And I call over to the dog owner. I give him my sausage sandwich. Maybe he can be lured with food.
I step back to my car. I roll the windows up. Opie’s been silent the whole time. It’s like he knows that it’s not a good time to bark at another dog, that something important is happening. The dog is surrounded by potential death. This is an extremely busy intersection. People are going to school, to work, to run errands. They are on cell phones. They don’t pay attention. I don’t even walk this far with Opie on leash. It’s too possible for both of us to be hit by a car losing control. It’s a bad intersection for pedestrians — two and four-legged.
After a few minutes, the dog comes closer to his owner. He goes behind a parked truck. A lady gets out of the truck. I can see she’s kneeling. I see the man approach.
And finally, he’s got the dog by the collar.
I can’t tell you how relieved I am. It wasn’t my dog. Opie was safely locked up in the car with me. He was belted in with his special doggy seat belt. His leash was tied to my armrest and the windows in the back of the van were up. He was not getting out. He was safe.
I cried a little on the way home. I’m crying a little now. Nerves, but also realization of how great everybody was, including me!
A team of people appeared to help this man. All of the drivers who stopped, the driver who tried to get the dog to come into the car, the two men in work jeans who helped the other man in the parking lot, the lady who knelt down to the dog and me. I gave the dog my breakfast.
I had a bad week. Two people said mean things to me on the street for no reason. I was shortening Opie’s walks so that I could avoid these mean people. Now I feel better. I saw more angels, and knights and fairy god mothers today than the two witches I dealt with this week.
So we’ll start our Halloween off well and think of the good spirits that inhabit the night, because there are Knights in blue jeans, Angels without wings and Fairy Godmothers from Burger King that live in our neighborhood.
Have a safe and wonderful Halloween everyone!