Friday, November 14, 2008

Just Doing My Job

Our son Bram says, "Every dog needs a job." Audrey's is guarding the house in which she lives with J and J in the high desert hills of Santa Fe, New Mexico. Mars and my job was to stay with Audrey for three weeks recently while her housemates were away on vacation.

Every day when we left we would let Audrey outside and tell her "Guard the house. Good girl!" She would immediately turn around and trot eagerly to her post at the front of the house.

As we drove away we could see her looking down at us -- her haunches firmly rooted in the dry, desert earth; her body tense with total attention; and her head turning slowly and deliberately to scan the surrounding topography.

When we returned hours later she was still there. And, as we drove around to the backyard, she ran to greet us -- with a super-sized yawn and a well-executed downward dog yoga stretch. This made me suspicious that she might have been taking an unauthorized break from her sentry duties. So I would check the wetness and warmth of her nose looking for the telltale signs of canine goldbricking. I never found any.

Still I found it really hard to believe that she stayed steadfastly sitting at her station for the entire duration of our absence. Hopefully she at least took a moment or two to hydrate at one of her two outdoor water bowls. Or to divert her laser-like attention, if only for the briefest nanosecond, to one of the white meat bones that she was given to amuse her on her longer tours of duty.

On the other hand, when you really love your job...

Now I myself have enjoyed certain aspects of certain jobs that I have held in my pre-retirement lifetime. In that same span of time however there were only two workers that I have seen with the same attitude and work ethic as Audrey -- another dog, and a hooker that I met early one morning in New York City.

The dog was a member of the Hartford, Connecticut Police Department. One day, as I was begrudgingly trudging across that city's Main Street, on my way to my former job, I heard the sound of emergency sirens approaching and two police cars passed quickly through the intersection.

The first held just the driver. But the second had a police canine in the back passenger seat. The window was down, and the dog's body up to its shoulders stuck out into the warm morning air. He mostly looked ahead toward where he was being driven. But he did glance around a few times as if to check out his audience. His ears flapped in the breeze, and his face had the open-mouthed smile of a dog in ecstasy.

As the car passed beyond the intersection, the driver hit the siren and the dog barked a deep-voiced duet. In my mind he was saying, "This is as good as it gets!" -- riding with his best friend, flying through the air with total abandon, on his way to do the thing that he, and only he, did best.

I thought how I would like to be that happy for just five minutes. And he was going to work.

I met the call girl when I was out for a pre-dawn exercise jog while on a business trip to the "Big Apple." It was around thirty-two degrees but, due to bad planning, I was wearing just shorts and a tee shirt as I ran up 57th Street approaching 7th Avenue. On the corner I saw an incredibly attractive woman wearing an incredibly short miniskirt, incredibly high stiletto heels, and (what looked like to me anyway) an incredibly expensive, waist length fur jacket.

As I arrived at the intersection she looked me in the eyes and said, "Ain't you'ze cold in that outfit?" "Aren't you?" I replied. She smiled and said with a sense of pride, "Yeh, but I won't be out here for long." as she turned and walked into the shiny black limousine that just then pulled up at the curb.

Like Audrey, both the hound in blue and the harlot in heels seemed to revel in the anticipation of doing their respective jobs. And, again like Audrey, each of them was really good at what they did.

At least I assume that they were. I mean how would I know? I never know...

Besides, there are some things that just cannot be faked -- two out of three anyway.

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