Every day I navigate life with my Dog Mina. We leave the hotel room to go out for a break. This means two elevator rides and a walk around the block to find an acceptable place for her to do her business. Once that is accomplished, we head back up to the room to do the breakfast thing and take care of a few emails and phone calls. Then we get back in the elevator, this time with many humans inside, to head to our daily medical treatment (I’ll write about that later). Most of the humans on the elevator are either afraid of Mina, or neurotically attracted to her. The afraid humans are easy. I just have Mina sit and she is quiet and the elevator trip goes well. The neurotically enthusiastic crowd are FAR more difficult. Sometimes we get statements: “That’s a Malimoy” which is purposely misspelled here because most people don’t know how to say “Malinois.” Phonetically it goes like this: mal-in-was. Or I get the even better statement; “didn’t know they allowed Dogs in this hotel?” Sometimes people ask questions; “Is she friendly?” To which I usually answer, “well, that depends” which is difficult for the questioner to take because all they really want is the fastest, most polite way to put their hands on Mina. Then there is the “Is she a service Dog?” To which I reply yes, and if the elevator ride is long enough, the asker almost always has a follow-up question: “What does she do?” To which I reply, “well are you sure you want to hear the answer to that question?” This is confusing to the questioner. Befuddled, most of them say “yes.” So I then go into a story about how I was in the service and was injured and struggled with depression and was suicidal and then I acquired Mina and she helps me get out of myself and be a (hopefully) better human. This causes a great amount of discomfort. The questioner generally realizes that they really didn’t want to know the answer. The questioner then stops staring at Mina and I can see the screams in their mind for the elevator ride to be over expressed in the lines on their forehead. The questioner still has it in themselves to muster up an insanely benign “thank you for your service” or “well I’m glad you have her” on their brisk exit from the elevator.
Occasionally I’m a jerk and I just stare at them. They can’t help themselves. They truly don’t give a shit about my service, they just want to talk about and pet Mina. They just want to get to their pumpkin spice latte as soon as possible and be on with their day.
Sometimes though, like yesterday, two young ladies and their father stopped me on the street and were so genuine and kind that I talked about Mina for 5 minutes with them. They were a bit afraid of her, but wanted to interact with her and understand why the fat guy with a pronounced limp (me) is bumbling along with this beautiful creature. I told the story and waited for more questions and we all walked away, we includes Mina, feeling good about the exchange. The lesson I learned from this collective experience is that sometimes I try to press myself into exchanges with people that I want to have without thinking about their situation. Sometimes this happens with people who are seriously busy and with whom I didn’t take the time to observe their demeanor before I opened my mouth and forced them to have to deal with me because they are polite. I think about all of the times I have interrupted people because I felt my need to be addressed outweighed their need to carry on their conversation. I think about how these frustrating experiences for me are actually opportunities to see how I can be a major pain in the ass sometimes. I get it….this is essentially the self reflection of a 9 year old, but we all get to where we are supposed to be in our own way I suppose.
Today, I want to be kind to people on their journey to their latte. I don’t know what is going on in their lives and I sure don’t know what they are really heading into when they start their day.
Sometimes I think being clever is the best thing.
The most important thing for me to be today, is to be kind.