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“Life isn’t just handing me lemons. It’s actually throwing them at me.” – Me
I put some home improvement projects on hold a few days ago to take Charlie on a much needed trip to the dog park to burn off some energy. She’s been there a few times, but she’s not quite used to having so many dogs at her disposal to play with. When another dog approaches, she either flips onto her back (I call it “showing the goods”) as they run over her, or she starts boxing them in the face and playing tag (running out to another dog, swatting at them to get them to chase her, and then runs back over to where I’m sitting very proud, with a look of “I did it!” all over her face).
After about an hour of play time, Charlie was sprawling across the grass and noticeably tired, so I decided it would be a good time to get another errand completed by taking her to Petsmart to get a new dog crate. Charlie has done amazingly well with crate training, but in the last week she’s hit a serious growth spurt which leaves her pressed against the gate of her crate as she sleeps (this dog really loves to spread her body out to a full-on starfish pose whenever she has a chance).
The new crate’s size will fit her dog bed (that she loves) and accommodate her when she reaches adult size (which my vet thinks will only be 35-40 lbs, but I think based on her paws that she’ll be a little bigger, so I got one big enough for 50 lbs — UPDATE: I was right!). After lugging the crate out to the car, getting everything ready to go, I cranked the car… and nothing. Battery was dead. Almost instantaneously, a guy in the parking lot overheard the lack of cranking and offered to give me a jump. I was thrilled – here I was with a tired puppy and this good Samaritan was already going to have me on my way with virtually no interruption. All I would need to do is take the car over to an auto parts store and have the battery checked and I’d probably be on my way.
I got out of my car to lift up the hood and left the door ajar to give Charlie some air while I stood ready to take instructions. The kind stranger hooked up my car to his, we waited a few minutes, and he gave me a signal that I should try to start my engine. I returned to the car…
…and Charlie had peed. All over the driver’s seat.
Now that I’ve had some distance from the day’s events, I find this very funny. Now I do.
But on this particular day, I’d been on the tail end of a very horrible series of days at work. My job particularly consists of solving problems that my clients report, which usually means I don’t always get to speak to people who are in the best of moods. Usually this is very manageable, but every now and then there is one of those glaringly abnormal, horrible days where nothing seems to go your way. I had about four of them in a row before the day that my car died.
So by the time Charlie decided to take a wiz all over the seat that I have to sit in to get to the auto store to check my dead battery on my old car that was clearly falling apart on a horrible work day after a week where my house was staging a full-on revolt and I was miserable,
I just stood there, stunned. I’d experienced so much bad luck in such a short period of time, I actually felt a little numb.
Everyone experiences moments of stress where you feel like you just can’t. Can’t do this anymore, can’t take this anymore, can’t think anymore, can’t ignore it anymore, and you just have to stop. One exasperating thing after another, I had to just close my eyes and breathe.
Deep breaths, in and out, because it was something I had complete and total control over.
I had no napkins or cleaning materials. So I was forced to use the sweater I’d worn to work to clean up Charlie’s mess. In full disclosure, I’d left it in the seat when I got out of the car to pop the hood, so Charlie had already done some handiwork on the sweater anyway; it was the best option I had at the time. Then I got in the car, cranked the ignition, thanked the stranger profusely, and got to the auto store just before they closed. They ran their tests and determined that the alternator was to blame – a $200 part.
I called my father because he’s got a jack-of-all-trades friend who does some car repair work for cheap. Given that my car was barely working, I couldn’t risk driving home and trying to pack to get down to my dad’s house before the morning (limited options appear at 9 PM on a Tuesday night, so this was the best opportunity to get a running engine down to the mechanic who could replace the part and avoid missing work). An hour drive to his home, and Charlie and I camped out for the night in my old childhood bedroom.
I washed the sweater. And the only pair of underwear I had.
And you know what? I’ve decided to be grateful.
I’m grateful that a kind stranger wouldn’t leave me stranded. I’m grateful my father offered to help. I’m grateful that his friend can fix my car for less than I could afford at a body shop, minimizing the unexpected expenses. I’m grateful that I caught the problems with the house last week because I’m not sure I could have handled that too this week.
My dad drove me to work this morning and I was over an hour early. So I grabbed some coffee and sat outside the office building on a bench that faced a small garden area. The Georgia heat is finally giving way to the coming fall season, and I sipped my coffee and enjoyed the morning air. Days don’t always go our way, but at least I could enjoy the next few minutes.