Mar 23, 2007

Almost a Hero

If you've seen the movie Finding Nemo, you probably remember the scene when Marlin is chasing after the boat that fishnapped Nemo. The trail of bubbles (aka 'the wake') is gradually dissipating into vague fizz. Then it was gone.

That was me today.

I was taking my long Thursday walk when it happened.
[Note: loyal readers of this blog may remember that I had a usual swim session on Thursdays, but walks are cheaper and there was a group of geriatric pool hogs who were giving subtle hints that the pool was their turf. Are YOU going to challenge 6 grandmas when they start floating into your swim lane?]

As I was finishing my hour long walk, I was editing a law review article on residency rights in the European Community and listening to NPR on my radio/cellphone. I had almost finished the article when a little wiener dog shot past me. He was followed closely by a boy. The boy was about 12-years-old and was calling after the dog. (I should mention that this is along a major thoroughfare street in the San Fernando Valley... lots of cars.) The dog had no collar and was running like he'd just learned the joy of it for the first time.

"Kid, is that your dog?", I said as I took a radio earbud out of my ear.
"Yeah!" he replied.

I contemplated about 8 or 9 seconds as the kid raced on. Then I started running too.

By the end of the block, the kid was not running anymore. The little hot dog was, though, and so was I.
Luckily, the crosswalk light was green and I ran across the street.

The dog entered traffic and ran diagonally across the intersection. The entire intersection noted the dog and cars swerved and stopped. I didn't try to waste energy crossing the street; I was focused on just trying to catch up and keep pace with the little guy.

Soon it became a marathon. That dog with its 4-inch legs was always at least 30-40 meters ahead of me. I could not catch up. I must be really out of shape. I expected him to poop out or taking interest in a tree or something and that would be when I caught up.

"Is that your dog?" people called.

Some cars had stopped and other people got out trying to stop him.

"The dog went that way." It was obvious what I was running for. People were very concerned and helpful.
These were the bubbles on the trail.

The dog was getting further away. I was getting more out of breath. I was clenching the article in my hand as I was getting all sweaty and tired. Some ladies thought that they had cornered him in some bushes...but then a car pulled over and said that he was racing down the street again.

On I went.

I saw an SUV do a U-turn. He was also trying to stop the dog. (No, not THAT way.) The driver said that the dog either went straight or down a side street. I thanked him, described the boy who lost the dog and went straight. The SUV took the side street.

About a block later, I asked a couple of people if they saw that dog pass by. They said they had not seen the dog run that far. One of them, a man with a kid in a mini-van, said that he had seen the dog all the way back near the mall...and then he said that he had seen me too. The bubbles had fizzed into nothing.

"You ran all that way?!" I guess I had. I think it ended up being somewhere between 1.3 and 1.5 miles.

There must have been at least 10 cars and 20 people who tried to help along the way. That's a lot of caring people from many different walks of life. It was nice to see and hear that, even if we all failed in getting that boy's dog back.

The man with the minivan saw me turn around and start walking back. He pulled over and offered me a ride. I was pooped and the guy had just picked his 4-year-old up from daycare-he seemed safe. He dropped me back when I had started running. "You've done your good deed for the day. Even though you didn't get him, you tried." I thanked him and he wished me a good day.

I couldn't find the boy to report my failure. He was gone too.

Then I went back to my usual plan: finish the walk and go to Trader Joe's market.

As I walked around the market, I was parched from my run and I had the coughing and phlegm that you get when your not a runner and you suddenly exert yourself like that. I found the water dispenser and started drinking like a camel. The lady giving out free samples asked me how I was. I told her the story. She told me that today I was her hero, even though I didn't catch the hotdog. Then she gave me a sample of carrot cake "because you need to get back some of the sugar you burned."

That's why this post is titled "Almost a Hero."

1 comment:

Nikki said...


You did good.

I'm sure the little hotdog made it home.

(I love reading your blog btw...)

Hope that you guys are doing well. Chag Samayach!