Trust

It’s Carnaval week. Today and tomorrow off, might as well take the rest of the week, is what everyone thinks. A lone motorcycle rattles off down the street, vaguely a siren, streets and streets away, or the tired sigh of a bus starting, shifting gears and stopping again. Last week I started my new job, and returned to my other slightly more familiar one. We do workshops, as teachers, allegedly to reflect on practices. Whatever. On and on they force us to talk, in groups, in pairs, about community and action and service. About ladders, triangles and paradigms; they go on and on, and get us in groups to act out a machine for the others, which earns us the right to have lunch, apparently. Ours was a plane, and as a history teacher told me, I was the flight attendant, facing two rows of folks squatting, and leaning with the imaginary wind, and outstretching their arms to form wings. I pointed to the front and the sides, robotically, like I’ve seen them do.

For lunch: hamburgers. In the whole workshop there’s just one other vegetarian, and it’s my department head. I’m golden, this is bonding and beyond, and you never know when you might need it.

Upon leaving, about 2 blocks away, where the three streets circumvent, I see a small black puppy, rather emaciated, twitching. As I walk towards it, a thin homeless man, probably around my own age, but truly weathered, moves her with care onto the t-shirt he just took off, laid out circumspectly on the grass. We start talking about her, how she’s his little girl, and he knows he didn’t give her the shots when he was supposed to, and now this, although she’s his only family. He has had a family, he clarifies, but he’s been years and years in the street, and from the moment they brought her to him she belonged with him.

He says he takes her to the vet shop across the street from the university, the bus drivers pretend they don’t see her cuddled up in his sweater: she even knows not to make a peep, she’s smart like that, she shakes a lot less when he holds her.

I try to bring up tactfully the possibility that she might have to be put down. He tells me everyone wants to convince him of it, but he can’t, he’d rather walk into a car during the green light that harm a hair of hers. She is going to live, she’s going to have to live: one suffers like hell, that’s life, he tells both of us, his voice breaking. If I don’t do something, I’m going to cry too, so I stand and he stands with me. He needs to know it could have happened either way, even if he wasn’t stealing and getting high. He knows, he repeats, that she’s going to make it. He’s going to keep taking her to the vet, with the money people in the neighborhood give him.

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