Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Doing the Right Thing....

Sometimes, Doing The Right Thing Just Sucks

I hate commuting. If you live in a major urban area you probably commute. Where I lived, it just kept getting worse and worse. The drive to work was usually around 45 minutes one way. So that is an hour and thirty minutes of my life sucked away from me just so I could get to an office and work for someone else. It was driving me nuts and the older I got, the more I felt that my quality of life was slipping away from me.

So I started taking the bus to work. This required a bit of a change in lifestyle but I found that the extra effort was well worth it. While I didn't get to work any quicker, I could basically 'zone-out' on the bus ride and just close my eyes an listen to my headphones. The reduction in stress alone was worth getting up earlier and making the mile long walk to the bus stop in the dark.

I enjoyed these walks. The path from my home to the bus stop wandered through a residential neighborhood. It was often cool and dark on my way there. There was no traffic noise or sirens and the news vulture helicopters had not yet left their launch pads. It was a quiet time when the world seemed much slower and more relaxed. During these walks I could be alone with my thoughts and contemplate my job, my marriage, my health, the whole meaning of life.

It was during one of these walks that I ran across him. Half way between my house and the bus stop he came scampering out of some bushes by the sidewalk. A little Labrador puppy. He couldn't have been more than 2 months old. I stopped in my tracks and smiled at him as he walked up to me with no fear and started to sniff my shoes. I stooped down and patted his head and his tail wagged as he slobbered all over my hand with his tongue.

He must have been lost or had escaped through an open back yard gate. I wondered how long he had been laying in the bushes, during the cold night with no one to play with. He rolled on his back and gently gnawed on my fingers as I rubbed his stomach. I must have been his savior that morning. The person that was going to make him wanted and loved again.

After a minute of bonding with the little fellow, I had to get back on my journey to the bus stop or I would miss the bus, which would make me an hour late for work. This is when the problem started.

You see, the puppy didn't know I had to go to work. He didn't have any concept of the world outside his back yard. He followed behind me, nipping at my heals and begging to be petted some more. This wasn't good I thought. If he follows me too far before getting bored with me, he will be too far away from home and will really be lost. And the closer we get to the main street where the bus stop is, the more likely he could be run over by a car. I stopped and pushed him away told him "NO" in a very firm tone. He just looked at me, cocked his head and continued to wage his tale.

As I started out again for the bus stop, he once again started following me, tail waging. "Jesus", I thought. If I picked him and took him back home I will be late for work. If I let him keep following me he could get killed. There was only one thing I could think of to do.

I turned around and kicked him. He let out a little yelp and sat down looking at me with those big puppy-dog eyes. "Why did you do that?, don't you like me anymore?" they screamed.

I started off again and once again he started to follow me, but his tail wasn't wagging as much. I stopped, turned and kicked him again. Again he yelped and sat down. "NO", I yelled.

I turned and starting walking again. After several yards I looked over my shoulder and he was still sitting there, looking at his savior disappear into the darkness.

I arrived at the bus stop just in time to catch the bus. I sat down, put on my head phones and thought to myself, "What a great way to start the day.".

All day long it nagged me and I tried to convince myself that his family had found him and that he was playing in his back yard somewhere while planting hundreds of puppy-dog kisses all the child that he had been purchased for. At least I hoped so.

I took the bus home that evening and walked the same route as I had done that morning. There was no sign of the little fellow anywhere. I arrived home and my wife asked me how my day had been.

"Great", I said...."It started off with me having to kick a puppy."


  1. The title of this piece reminds me of one of my favorite people, Albert Jay Nock, and one of his essays, "On Doing the Right Thing." I couldn't find it online, but I have it in hard copy. In the essay, Nock explained that education produced 'intelligenz' [sic] -- "the power invariably, in Plato's phrase, to see things as they are, to survey them and one's own relations to them with objective disinterestedness, and to apply one's consciousness to them simply and directly, letting it take its own way over them uncharted by prepossession, unchannelled by prejudice, and above all uncontrolled by routine and formula" (On Doing the Right Thing And Other Essays, 9). The educated man was capable of independent thought. Unfortunately, Nock believed few people were educable. After pondering his comments, I am inclined to agree. Even the brightest of the computer nerds is frequently only trained, and not at all educated. If I were to ask him or her about Plato's philosophy of government, I would get a blank stare. On the other hand, some are autodidactic. Whaddaya think?

  2. I already read this one I think. But yeah. no puppy love for you I guess.

    puppy hater!