Having one of those days? Me, too.
I got home from work today, grabbed Cleo’s leash and promptly headed out the door for our walk. I thought to myself, “This leash is just a formality,” because Cleo is the most gentle walker in her older age. And, if it weren’t for, um, city laws, she’d walk off leash right next to me.
So, we go around the side of the building by the golf course. It’s a gorgeous afternoon. Temps are mild, sun is shining – beautiful. Cleo is sniffing like she normally does.
We make another turn around the building and I notice one of my neighbors. He’s an older man, leaning on the rail of his first floor balcony coolly smoking a cigarette and watching the golfers, like the Marlboro man come to life. He has tan, weathered skin that suit his cowboy hat and boots attire. We nod and smile at each other. I mention how nice the weather is and he gives me a funny look.
I walk comfortably, one hand on the leash, the other in my pocket deep in thoughts of the day. I wonder if he thinks it’s too cold, maybe that’s what the look was – but, then…I turn back to check on Cleo only to realize I’m walking a leash and collar ONLY. No dog.
I look up and laugh awkwardly as the man is looking at me with his head tilted to the left, his cigarette frozen in mid air and he says, “I was gonna say….” and his words trail off as I sort of sprint and sort of gorilla run (because I always run funny when I’m embarrassed) to where I was walking Cleo, hoping she’s still there. Shouting behind me what I believe to be so witty and funny he won’t really settle on the absurdity of me walking only a leash, “The leash is really just a formality!”
Then, cursing my words that her leash was just a formality. Clearly it’s NOT.
I find her right where I left her. She’s standing there letting the wind carry her ears back, as if she’s the Pantene hair model. My shoulders relax and I just laugh. But, inside, I know – I have to take her back by my neighbor so he doesn’t think I’m INSANE.
So, just like the perfect dog she is, she sees me, acknowledges me by walking to me. I love her. And, I proudly walk back by the gentlemen. Thinking how it’s been the weirdest day. I had already spent three hours at work on a task I do daily, only to realize I did it opposite of how I was supposed to. Well, that was enough to send me out of my cube to talk to people. And, for an introvert, it really takes sheer task exhaustion for people time to be more appealing.
I approach the gentleman, smiling and say, “Heh, heh, found her. It’s been one of those days.” I even do the Vanna White arms gesture toward Cleo as if to say, “Tada!” She’s real I promise.
He just tilts the rim of his hat to me with a smile and twinkle in his eye and states wisely, “It happens.”
I feel relieved and a little less embarrassed as we keep walking. And, I shake my head laughing, thinking, “It sure does.”
And, I say a silent thank you to the Marlboro man because working in a world where perfect is the goal, doing things better and faster and if you make a mistake you have to ask: what’s the impact? what was the root cause? how will we correct our process so it never happens again? It was just nice to do something by accident and not have to dive into analysis, but be content in the truth that, “It happens.”
And, leave it at that.