On my way home from the train station yesterday, I walked my usual route down Evelyn, but turned left at Charles. Not always the way I go, but eh, it worked. I noticed as I was walking, a man walking a ways in front of me. He was walking his dog, which appeared to be a chihuahua, or some other equally pocket sized dog. I was impressed with how well the tiny little dog kept up with man, though he wasn't walking particularly fast.
A few minutes later, I had caught up to where I saw the man and his dog, with his dog still there. As I approached, I realized the dog wasn't a chihuahua, it was a tiny puppy, about the size of my hand. As I stepped closer, it came bounding up to me. I was its new best friend.
The dog itself wasn't particularly cute as far as dogs go. It was, however, tiny. And therefore tiny-cute. And, of course, I had forgotten my camera.
The guy I saw with the dog, however, wasn't anywhere around. There was a bike standing in the middle of the sidewalk, looking like someone had dropped the kickstand and stepped away, intending on returning in a minute or so, but no actual person around.
Since this tiny little doggie was just as likely to go bounding into the street as it was to follow me, I stopped to pet it for a while, sitting on the sidewalk with this little bundle of love trying to climb up. The whole time I had three thoughts running through my head: "I wonder where her owner is," and "I shouldn't be playing with this dog, because I'm sure not to like the owner," and "Dog, don't pee on me."
Eventually, I realized I needed to get moving, since I had a client call in less than an hour and a forty-five minute walk that would be an hour walk if I didn't start moving now, and stood up. I knocked at the door of the house where I had just met the puppy, careful not to tread on the Harley Davidson door mat on the porch, only to be greated by the loud barking of a Doberman.
Great. This puppy is actually escaped dog food. Ugh.
The dog's person came to the door, opening it puzzled. "Yes?"
"Is this your puppy?" I asked, pointing down to the puppy trying to climb the porch step that was twice as tall as she was.
"What? No. I don't know whose it is," he answered. Before I could ask him if he had a suggestion for which direction I should start walking to knock on doors, another guy called out from the back room, "Is she asking about the puppy?"
The voice's owner came into the living room, over to the door, and explained the door belonged to the neighbors to the east of them, don't know how the dog got out. I had to wonder myself, as the first guy bent over and scooped up the puppy. What kind of life was this tiny creature in for, who had so innocently approached me looking for love, affection, maybe a few scratches behind the ears right there, no, over, over, ooooohhhhhhhhver, ah, yeah, right there. Her owner clearly couldn't keep a puppy inside, letting it wander. Was that good or bad? Was letting it go into the house with the Doberman growling at me from the couch going to be better than letting it wander into the street?
Too late to take it back and "accidently" walk home with it.
I left. I couldn't help but consider the parallels between that dog, and the woman I saw on Monday in the parking lot during lunch. I had gone to Fresh Choice for lunch (surprisingly, choosing to use my own dressing instead of the high-fructose-corn-syrup-flavored dressings normally there) and was walking into the restaurant when I saw a woman walking out to her car, carrying bags from the local crap store.
I had gone into the crap store a year or so ago once to see what it was, as it appeared to be a small chain of stores. I lasted all of maybe five minutes in there, realizing that the only merchandise they had was crap discounted from crap some other discount, left-overs store couldn't sell. I wish I were exaggerating when I say that, but some of the crap had sale stickers from other stores on them.
So, this woman was carrying bags full of crap from this crap store. Yeah, I was probably projecting, but I couldn't help but think, "Gah, I should help this woman. She's clearly down on her luck. Does she really think that stuff is any good?" I nearly said something, but didn't, choosing to stick my hands in my pockets and look away. I remembered the time when I went to Target to buy silverware after Guy and I had broken up, and I was moving back out on my own. I think that was one of the last times I've been bone deep lonely. I'm usually just fine by myself. I wasn't then. I projected that sense of loneliness onto this woman, deserved or not, from the purchases from the crap store and the beatup car she loaded her new crap into.
I could have gone up to her and said hello.
I chose to turn and walk away.
Walking away from the puppy felt much the same as doing nothing. This being approaching me, intentionally or not, looking for acceptance, comfort, love. How easy would it be to reach out to everyone and everything who needed help? How easy would it be to be lost in that sea of need, not being able to say no? Too easy. Way too easy.
I walked away.