Another beautiful afternoon. The first inklings of spring have begun to push their way through the clouds and rain of winter. Today is sunny, if cold, and the dog happily sniffs her way along the blocks near my house.
Last night we walked down these same streets, heads down, pelted by ice-cold windblown rain, soaking through clothes and fur alike. Today is much nicer. We can agree on that.
But she doesn't agree on what has to come next; getting shut up in the house, watching me get in the car and drive away. She'll sit on the couch and look out the window. For all I know she'll sit there for thirteen full hours, until my car pulls up again, in the dawn light.
I think that I run the risk of conditioning a Pavlovian response in the dog; risk making her sad every day when it gets dark, because she knows it's probably time for me to go. Most days, anyway. Today, certainly.
The sun is setting, everyone is coming home, and it is time for me to go to work. In my locker is a blue uniform and scuffed boots. In the crew room there is a rack of radios, and another of keys. In the bay is a gleaming white ambulance. In houses and cars, on sidewalks and streets, in backyards and bars and businesses, are men and women and children, not yet sick or hurt enough to pick up the phone and dial those three magic numbers.
All of them waiting, waiting for me, just as sure as the dog waits at the window.
1 year ago