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“Listen to this,” I exclaimed to my husband Brian in disbelief, “A US Airways flight had to make an emergency landing because a dog pooped on the plane.” I read the news story from my cell phone.
“An emergency landing for that,” Brian asked in amazement.
“It gets better,” I told him. “The dog was big and he pooped a lot! The crew cleaned it up but the smell lingered.”
“What sissies,” Brian said.
“That’s not the end of it though,” I told him. “Apparently the dog pooped again later. The smell was so bad people started being sick and dry heaving.”
“When the crew ran out of cleaning supplies the pilot decided the put the plane down.”
“This story is finally starting to make sense,” he said.
“Remember our last road trip,” I asked him.
We both paused and thought back. We were returning home from a visit to his parent’s in Georgia. Brian, our dog Starla and I made the three hour drive back to our home in Greenville, South Carolina.
Things were going smoothly. We’d packed everything, were making good time and hadn’t had car trouble. I was smug. Probably too smug that I’d managed to get us on the road successfully.
“Was that you,” Brian asked suddenly.
“Was what me,” I asked.
Then it hit me. The smell was like an illness that climbed through the cabin of the car.
Starla looked guilty.
“Oh gosh,” I gagged.
Brian and I contorted desperate to open the flip out windows in the back of our Honda Element. We were trapped in a car shaped like a toaster, barreling down the freeway with no exits in sight and a dog that was dropping bombs potent enough to choke an elephant.
“Don’t roll down the front windows,” I cried a moment too late. “It will draw the smell toward us!”
He frantically pressed buttons on the driver’s door handle.
“Why won’t the far back window roll down,” he gasped.
“I don’t know,” I screamed. “I guess gassy dogs weren’t in the design plan at Honda.”
He calmed himself. “We can’t turn on each other,” he said with forced composure.
“No,” I agreed. “We must stay strong.”
“Thank God! An exit,” I pointed out a ramp that was nearing at eighty miles an hour. Too slow, far too slow.
Brian kept the top-heavy SUV at speed as long as he could on the ramp slowing only when gravity forced him to brake.
We whipped into the nearest gas station. I snapped the leash on Starla’s collar and rushed her to a grassy spot. Brian aired out the Element.
“I remember,” Brian said, bringing me back to the present. He looked slightly green around the eyes.
“Imagine,” I said, “being trapped in a plane with that smell.”
“Recirculated air,” he murmured.
We looked at each other, stood and each opened a window in our apartment.
My husband Brian returned home from work and lay face down in the middle of the living room floor. The dog immediately jumped on him.
“Uhhhhmmmmpppfff,” he gasped when she landed in the small of his back. “Get off!”
I opened a beer.
“Rough day at the office, sweetie,” I asked handing him the beer.
“If only I worked in an office,” he muttered.
He doesn’t. He works in retail and sells glasses to masses of people. People who are furious that they have to spend their money on glasses instead of something they really want.
“We had a ‘problem customer,’” he groaned.
“Just one,” I asked surprised.
He rolled his eyes so hard I worried he’d sprained them.
“Yeah just one today but it was a bad one and it took me hours to sort out a computer problem with her order. The problem was caused by home office but my boss will probably yell at me for it,” he took a long pull from the beer. “I need a different job.”
He did. He’s happiest when working with machines. People present him with a bigger challenge, particularly people who are determined to be unhappy no matter what he does.
These people are also known as retail customers.
A bad economy and limited job options landed him his current job. He misses working with his hands.
Brian is at his best when a machine breaks down. He pulls it apart, finds the problem and reassembles.
When people aren’t working at their full potential you can’t take them apart and add oil.
I smiled at him. “Finding a job that’s a good fit is a little like dating.”
“How do you mean,” he asked.
“They aren’t all destined to be a marriage. Sometimes all it takes is one bad dinner and a movie to know this isn’t the job you’re going to stay with for the rest of your life.”
“I need to break up with this job,” he muttered. He thought about it for a moment. “Is it cheating if I start looking for another job?”
“I think you’re getting carried away with the metaphor,” I replied.
He climbed out of the floor and sat on the couch. The dog jumped in his lap.
Brian scratched her ears, gave me a warm smile and said, “If I can find a job that makes me as happy as you and the dog do, it will be a great job indeed.”
“One that will last a lifetime,” I agreed.
There is nothing as wonderful in marriage as having a spouse who understands you.
That’s why when I learned that Brevard, North Carolina is home to a population of white squirrels, my husband Brian fired up the car. We drove an hour and a half to look at white squirrels.
He gets me.
Sadly, it isn’t always reciprocal. When the new space simulator computer game Star Citizen was announced, I started receiving daily “updates.” Updates I apparently subscribed to eleven years ago when I signed my marriage contract.
There is no unsubscribe button in marriage.
This game receives a lot of hype in the internet community and is complete with two weekly blog updates and an ongoing reality TV type competition where designers compete to design a space ship, spacecraft or whatever. The winner of which gets the unparalleled honor of having their ship appear in the completed game.
These frequent updates give Brian much to be thrilled about.
“They’re going to have to eliminate some people that I think they really don’t want to eliminate,” he updated me on the graphic designer competition over coffee Tuesday morning.
“I think in the end they’ll find ways to incorporate several of the competitors even though they said there would be only one winner,” he chatted happily.
“Great,” I murmured. I picked up my cell phone and checked Facebook.
“I mean some of those guys are really good,” I’m sure his eyes were lit up like a kid’s at Christmas but I didn’t look away from the latest Grumpy Cat caption.
“I’m pulling for at least four of them,” he said as he followed me to the shower.
I turned on the water and climbed in.
Twenty minutes later, when I emerged he was still talking.
“That’s nice, Honey,” I replied even less interested in his space game than I was at breakfast.
He stared at me blankly.
“I said did you take the dog out for a walk yet,” he repeated.
There is nothing as wonderful in marriage as having a spouse who understands you – or at least fakes it well.
Last Monday afternoon I dragged myself to the grocery store to procure the weekly meals. Buying groceries has never been a favorite chore but because I like eating and I haven’t figured out how to get the cat to go in my place, I reluctantly submitted to the task.
To shake things up, I decided to try a store across town where I had never before shopped. When I arrived, I was surprised to find an armed security guard at the entrance.
The store was large and crowded to be sure but I saw no one who made me think the store needed an armed guard.
Shoppers jostled one another and scrambled for the last can of green beans, a little old lady on a power scooter held up traffic on aisle five for fifteen minutes and the registers were temporarily shut down when a five-year-old escaped from his mother and pulled a plug. All very routine for a grocery store.
I waded into the fray and used my cart as a shield and once as a battering ram when a rolling rack laden with cans of SpaghettiOs blocked the fish counter.
When I arrived at checkout, every lane was full. I found the shortest lane and got ready to wait.
The man in front of me provided ample distraction from boredom.
He was clad from head to foot in black leather. His scraggly brown hair and beard looked as though they hadn’t been washed since the Cola Wars. Music laced with cursing and drug references blared from his cell phone. A pair of brass knuckles hung from his belt. I struggled not to gape. He was a sight.
I was beginning to understand the armed guard.
The man in front of me turned around and stared.
I forced a smile.
He shot a greasy gaze over the items in my cart. I could only hope that my choice of balanced, healthy foods gave the impression of fitness rather than meekness. I was betting on the bananas.
He stared. One eye twitched.
Don’t show fear, I thought. I quailed anyway. I’ve seen my share of “interesting” people but this man made a rabid Bigfoot look cuddly.
“Would you like to go before me ma’am,” he asked politely.
“Thank you,” I replied surprised.
To put it succinctly, it was not the conversation I anticipated.
He stepped back with a smile and allowed me to take his place.
Well, I said to myself in my best imitation of my mother, that’s what you get for judging people.
Suddenly, a woman standing in front of a pyramid of cans shrieked, “The ad says creamed corn is $0.89 per can! The sign says it’s $0.92 per can! I will not be ripped off! I will not be ripped off!”
The armed dashed toward her.
Jayne Martin made me do it. Yes, if she jumped off a bridge I would too. That’s because my pal Jayne from injaynesworld is an amazing writer and I have a habit of imitating the work of people I admire.
(Hemingway would probably disagree but he’s dead so let’s not worry about what he thinks.)
Jayne issued a challenge to write a piece of Hint Fiction. I accepted, a couple of days late but who’s counting?
Hint Fiction is a very short complete story that hints at a larger story. You can read her examples here and see links to other participants stories.
You can read my offering below:
“What’s for dinner,” he asked.
“Stir fry,” I replied with a contented smile.
“Hey,” he said suddenly, “have you seen the dog?”
Now that you think I would cook my dog remember, Jayne Martin made me do it!No dogs were harmed in the writing of this post and Starla is completely fine. No, really! See:
For fourteen years, I worked as a pet sitter.
Many people think pet sitting is an easy job. In some ways, they’re right. It isn’t brain surgery after all.
On the other hand, animals have a way of doing what they want rather than what you want. Even the best pet sitter can be at the mercy of a wily house cat or mischievous canine from time to time. I was no exception.
Daisy was a small cat I once cared for. She needed medication for asthma, a surprisingly common ailment in cats. Perhaps they’re allergic to people.
I’ve always had a knack for pilling cats and I’ve been able to medicate cats that others could not. Pilling Daisy wouldn’t be a problem. Even if she was a bit shy, she was also quite sweet. She wasn’t going to leave me with scratches or puncture wounds.
I always anticipate that a cat will run if they know I’m about to pill them so when I found Daisy in the owner’s bedroom I eased the door quietly shut and approached her calmly.
What I hadn’t anticipated was that Daisy was both smarter and smaller than me.
She darted under the dresser. I coaxed her out only to have her dart under the bed. Things were not off to a good start.
She didn’t seem frightened or upset. She just didn’t want to cooperate.
I couldn’t talk her out from under the owner’s massive bed. If they make a size larger than king this was it. Daisy felt safe and secure under its mass.
There was no helping it. I was going to have to crawl under. I tossed my cell phone on the bed and lay down on my stomach.
I slid in talking calmly to Daisy and urging her out into the room. She rose gracefully and stretched one back leg and then the other. When I was dead center, she ambled out into the bedroom as though it had been her idea all along. It probably was.
Now, to ease myself out and keep her from going back under the bed.
I wriggled forward. Nothing happened.
My rear end was firmly stuck.
The bed might be large but it wasn’t tall and my fanny was made for sitting on, not for squirming into tight places.
Fantastic. I was stuck under the bed of a near stranger. No human besides me would be in the house for days and my cell phone was on top of the bed where it was no help.
Unwilling to wait for rescue, I wriggled again and move fractionally. I squeezed my glutes and crawled.
When I finally emerged, my hiney ached and I had carpet burn on my elbows. I dusted myself off and went in search of Daisy.
She calmly allowed me to pill her as though it was the simplest thing in the world.
Nope, pet sitting isn’t brain surgery but it’s not for sissies either!
We were in Asheville, North Carolina, very near the Parkway, when I coerced my husband Brian to go for a drive.
“We don’t have to do the whole thing,” I exclaimed when he balked at the suggestion. “I just want to see it for myself.”
He agreed and plugged the Parkway into our GPS.
“We’re almost out of gas,” he commented. “I’ll follow the directions to the Parkway and stop when I see a gas station.”
I agreed and we set off from downtown Asheville.
Asheville is in the mountains and the roads around downtown rose and fell with drama. The GPS guided us through several turns and led us to a surprisingly residential area. No gas stations were in sight.
The road climbed progressively higher.
I glanced at the GPS.
“It says there’s a gas station in a mile,” I told Brian. “Keep an eye out. With all these hills and turns we might come on it suddenly.”
He continued to drive following the turns of the road.
I realized we’d climbed a mountain. Brian and I laughed at how in Asheville, to go anywhere, you have to go over the mountain first.
Yet something seemed wrong. The road kept winding and twisting its way up but there were no gas stations. There weren’t even any houses anymore.
“I don’t understand,” I said consulting GPS. “It says the gas station is less than a mile away but how can there be a gas station all the way up here?”
Sudden realization dawned on us. The gas station was less than a mile away not by road down the mountain!
We weren’t going to get gas on our way to the Blue Ridge Parkway. We were already there!
The vista views were breathtaking but they paled in comparison to the realization that we were going to run out of gas on top of a mountain.
“Carrying gas in a can to a broken down car is a much longer walk when you have to go up a mountain,” Brian muttered.
“You’ll have to let me know how bad it is once it’s over,” I retorted. I turned off the air conditioner to conserve gas and rolled down the window.
I began to laugh.
Brian raised his eyebrows.
“Only you and I could run out of gas on top of a mountain,” I said.
He grinned, “At least it will be downhill – once we get to the other side!”
I reprogrammed the GPS to take us immediately to the closest gas station. We coasted to the pump in neutral, even the fumes were gone.