Me and my dog Sophie, take a long walk every morning. If you drive along my road at about 6:30 a.m. you will see us, plodding along. We walk at this early time for a couple of reasons. I have to be at work every week day by 8:00 or 8:30. When I get home, it’s around 5:30-6:00 in the evening and I’m exhausted and don’t feel like walking. There is also less traffic early and the air isn’t hot yet. So we go in the morning, which suits Sophie just fine. She’s a Husky, Malamute mix and doesn’t like the hot weather. She loves the snow and winter, so early walking in summer is good for her.
A few days ago we were walking along when a car approached. I could tell by the sound that it was slowing down. I don’t mind when people admire my dog. I think she’s beautiful. Usually when someone stops, it’s to tell me they think she’s beautiful too. On this particular day, that was not the case.
The car pulls to a stop beside us and the window rolls down. Isn’t it funny that we still say the window “rolls down?” Anyhow, a man with a long skinny neck sticks his head out of the open window and says, “You shouldn’t be walking your dog on this hot pavement. I seen it on the news. Pavement is hot. It burns dogs feet. You should know better.”
I had checked the temperature before we left the house that morning. It was a cool, 59 degrees. The road where we walk is completely shaded at that time by a long row of trees on the South side. I didn’t know what to say. Sophie just stared at him. The man stared back, and I imagined him expecting some defiance on my part. Finally, not able to think of anything else I said, “It’s the sun.”
Craning his small head around on top of his long skinny neck like some kind of strange ostrich, he located the sun. Looking back at me he said, “What about it?”
“It’s the sun,” I said, “that makes the pavement hot. From beating down on it all day. In the cool morning,” I said, stooping down and placing my hand on the tar, “it’s cool. Not hot at all.”
“It’s…well…I….well, I saw it on the news. They said, pavement is hot. But….” And he pulled his head back into his car and drove off.
Now I try not to make generalizations or assumptions about anything, but sometimes that’s hard to avoid. I imagined this guy, watching the news, (and in my fantasy he was watching Fox News) and misunderstanding and believing every thing he saw. And then my fantasy turned into a horror movie when I realized that this guy would probably vote! There he would be in the voting booth with all the disinformation he got off TV bouncing around in his head and having no idea who to vote for or why. It scared me.
Sophie and I finished our walk in silence. Some way down the road I stopped and just looked down at her. She looked back at me as if to say, “What the heck was that about?” I don’t know, I thought, I just don’t know. And then I said to her, “Just be glad you’re a dog. Be really glad, you’re a dog.” She wagged her tail.