A Break in My Routine
I’ve always lived my life through routines. It saves me a lot of trouble and worry. I live in a world where having to make unnecessary little decisions affects my calm. Following routines has brought me success. I am 27, run my own accounting firm, own a mini-mansion and have a nice girlfriend. My daily routine involves doing everything I can at the same time every day: eating, leaving for and arriving from work, and watching television. And all my family and friends are familiar with all the jokes I ever tell, and when I am likely to tell any particular one. And my girlfriend says that we have a same sex relationship (that’s one of them, my standard answer to “How’s Diana?”).
Then came the break in my routine. I was walking over to the grocery store to buy milk, as I always do on a Thursday after work. I was in for a surprise, not something I generally like. I plan my own surprise parties. The store didn’t have the 2% milk that I always buy. I was at a loss. I started to walk down to the convenience store, about two blocks away. But before I knew it, I had walked right past it. By the time I realized that, I was three blocks farther down the road.
When that realization struck my mind, there was a deep sinking feeling in my mind, like I was about to fall into a bottomless pit of some kind. But somehow, still, I didn’t turn around and go back home. Something inside me made me want to keep on walking in the direction I was going. Something was driving me onwards. And I wasn’t even thinking of what my routine was -dinner at six, computer at six thirty, watch television from eight to ten, and call Diana at nine o’clock during a commercial, or put Netflix on pause. Hit the sack at ten, and read for 15 minutes.
I can’t say how long I had been walking when I felt something touching my left leg. Had I strained a muscle? No, it was a dog, a dachshund. It was scratching my leg with both forepaws. We had never had a dog or any other pet when I was growing up. Dad was concerned about the mess, and the typical parental reason that the parents not the kids would be the ones responsible for taking care of the animal.
She (I could see her tummy) was very friendly, her tail wagging like it was a form of propulsion. I bent down to pat her. No dog had ever approached me like this ever before, not even one owned by a friend.
Then I heard a shout from down a sideroad. “Sadie, Sadie come her you bad, bad dog. I’m going to punish you for this.” A big man was striding forward, leash in hand. I had the feeling that he was going to beat Sadie with it. It wasn’t long before the truth of that feeling came to pass. He struck her several times hard with the leather leash. Sadie yelped each time that he did.
Now I’ve never been much of a fighter. As a kid I talked my way out of fights, or just run away as fast as I could. But I took the big guy on with an energy that greatly surprised me. I pushed him away as hard as I could. This was not me! I did not act like this!
“Get away little man, before I give you some of the same treatment. This is my dog. I can punish it any way that I want. And I can make you regret what you just did, little man.”
I wasn’t that little, standing five foot eight, and weighing 170 pounds. And my energy made me feel bigger. “Don’t even try it. You hit me, that is assault pure and simple. You hit that dog again, and that’s animal abuse.”
He held back. Maybe he thought that, dressed in my suit and tie, I was lawyer, not an accountant. Who backs away from an accountant? So I played to his possible fear. “I am a criminal lawyer, and I know my rights and those of this dog. You touch me or hit that dog again and I will sue. It is not like I haven’t done that before.” The lies came more easily to me than I would have ever imagined.
“You can have her then. She’s no man’s dog anyway. She was my wife’s dog before that bitch left me. I was thinking of taking her into the woods and abandoning her. You will soon see that she is more than you can handle.” With those words he stomped away, waving the leash in the air.
Sadie looked up at me. I could swear that she was giving me a ‘thank you.’ “Well, girl, it is you and me now. Let’s go home.” I took my belt off, fortunately my pants were a little tight so they wouldn’t fall down, and looped the belt through her collar. I noticed that she did not have any tags or ownership or of having rabies shots. No surprise there. I had to bend over some to take her with me, but she came along willingly. There was a pet supply store on the way back, across the road, so I got a proper leash, some dog food, and a dish, and some advice. I told them that this was the first dog that I had ever owned.
We proceeded along the way home. Then I got an idea that was quite uncharacteristic of how I usually act. Sadie and I walked over to Diana’s place. I knocked on the door. When Diana arrived, she was surprised, I would almost say shocked when she saw me there. She knew my schedules and how strongly I was attached to them. Sadie was another surprise a few seconds later.
Diana stepped back as if she thought I was someone else. Then she simply said, “Come on in. Let’s have dinner. I see that you have food for your dog. What’s her name?”
When I said ‘Sadie’, I quickly added that that was the name that her previous owner had given her, sounding not very happy with the name because I wasn’t. It had bad associations with the big guy yelling at her.
“Well, let’s call her Sarah. I think I read somewhere that Sadie is used as a nickname for Sarah sometimes.”
“That sounds good to me.” And it did. It was good to change her name, as she had already changed my life, and would Diana’s as well. Sarah had taught me that I was tired of my routines, something I hadn’t imagined before.