Watching the Dog WalkerPublished July 3, 2012
My lunch hour became my Calgon getaway – I needed to de-stress somewhere safe. I told myself not to complain as I pushed “L” on the elevator pad. I reasoned that I was lucky to have this job, hurriedly opening the building door.
I breathed the First Avenue breeze and felt at ease. I trekked uptown, turning on 62nd Street, planning a loop around Bloomies. I could feel my eyebrows becoming one, furrowed and furious. My eyes followed my steps on the pavement. I only looked up to cross the street.
I was nerdy then, but not now, I rationalized. I thought about cattiness, the competition in this office. It was clear there was a clique and that the leader of the pack did not like the smell of me. I walked faster, hating how they whispered and giggled every time I walked into a room. I coached myself to act as if nothing was happening. I welled with tears and like a gerbil, my mind spun round and round. I fantasized about quitting.
I turned my thoughts over to my God, who I learned to see in a spiritual light rather than a religious rite, and I asked for clarity. Talk to me, please. I added dramatically, “How much loooooonnnnnggggger do I have to endure given I just started and that I really needed this job?”
I got answers, but I didn’t listen.
I looked up and saw a walker taking over the sidewalk with a handful of gorgeous dogs. Some small, some big. All happy to be out, like me. Without knowing it, I smiled. I searched for my favorites: a German Sheppard, a Basset Hound mom I pre-named “LaLa,” a Beagle, a collie, even a Great Dane. I forgot about my woes. I never made it to Bloomies.
Daily I repeated my lunch hour walks, looking forward to seeing the dog walker who handled happy and grumpy canines. I spotted “LaLa” whose droopy ears made me laugh as they swept the sidewalk.
I watched as some bumped tails, butted heads – each snarling for its space. I watched as a Boxer side-stepped the Basset Hound. It dawned on me that the girl bullies were not so different from these dogs. They were protecting their territory and sniffing me as the newbie while airing out their own frustrations and personal problems. It helped me understand them as I saw myself in the Basset Hound and them in the Boxer.
At the dog walker’s command, the Boxer retreated, sat and appealed with soft eyes and sticky drool, aware of his insecurity as the Basset looked up sagely. These dogs were the answer: reassuring me that everything would be okay.
My walk over, I reluctantly pushed “7” on the elevator pad. Instead of turning away, I approached the “Boxers” and said, “I just took a great walk along 62nd Street and passed this amazing dog walker. If you like dogs, do you want to go with me tomorrow?”
The leader said sarcastically, “I prefer cats,” which led to mocking laughter, but then added, “If it’s nice out, maybe I’ll go...I do want to go to Bloomies…” she offered, almost with regret. “Sure,” I said.
The next day arrived and when I asked if she, they, wanted to join me, they passed, but they did offer to walk out together. As we rode the elevator, we made small talk about lunch time errands and as we exited the building, the leader said, “I hope you find the dog walkers It is pretty cool to watch them.”
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