Maybe that’s why I had a dream last night about getting a job in Cape Town which I didn’t even apply for (they wanted me), it was an office position, not lecturing but something related, everyone was very welcoming, even the boss, who was not the proper boss. That position was held by ‘the general’ whose office was empty. The place used to be a military base. When I said, ‘I know all about generals,’ wink-wink nudge-nudge there was a general (excuse the pun) nod of agreement from the other staff. The whole atmosphere of the office was so nice, one staff member spent a great deal of time asking me how I like my coffee and which snacks I like and the stand-in boss asked: “will you join us all for lunch?” I had to decline because I had already organized something with my mother who somehow was also in the office!! Sitting at my desk!!!!
Getting back to the beach, after I told my friend how well my French classes were going, she told me about her family woes which included her ten-year old son going off on his brand new (trick) bike in a huff because there had been a dispute about his bathroom cleaning techniques. When he didn’t return after a few hours his parents got into a major panic searching the area by car, going to the police, finally phoning the boys’ teacher to get the tel number of his friends. He’s just started at a new school and has new (older than him) friends. They eventually located him at one of the friends’ houses and I was left thinking my friend was overreacting there are worse things for a ten year old to do than ride his bike with his friends. How wrong I was!
Sunday was another magnificent day and what I thought would be a boring ending to the England/SA cricket match (how could SA not get 171 runs in 50 overs?) turned out to be very exciting albeit with the wrong result. I then did some gardening and pulled my car out of the garage to attend to some scratch marks on the paint-work. In the interests of saving money, I used some ordinary gloss enamel paint to cover the black marks. Charlie followed me outside and as usual sniffed around the garden of our neighbours before walking to the top of the close. My neighbour, who was also gardening, came out and we had a chat. I showed him my pathetic painting effort – I should know there are a myriad of shades of white! He said, at least you will keep the rust at bay. Then he bent over my front tire and amidst oohs and aahs, told me it was completely smooth, the steel was showing through and if I didn’t get it fixed I’d run the risk of a blow-out.
I pulled the car back into the garage, resigning myself to the fact that most of my hard earned French-teaching money would be going on a new tyre. I then called to Charlie to come back into the house. No response.
After twenty minutes of walking up and down the close and around the block with no Charlie in sight, I got into the car and started looking for him. I returned home and asked my mother if Charlie wasn’t under her bed or something. He wasn’t. She joined me in the car and went out again looking for him. Returned home, asked the neighbour if Charlie hadn’t slipped into their house or the B&B that is attached to their house. He checked, no Charlie. It was getting dark now and panic set in. My biggest fear was that he would have turned right into Sandown Rd where there are shops and which is a busy street. I hadn’t checked there and now decided to do so. I walked into the Seven Eleven and asked the cashier if he’d seen a dog. Very nonchalantly, he nodded and said I should talk to another cashier. I could have throttled him and had to wait for the second one to finish serving a customer. She, too nonchalantly, handed me a piece of paper with a cell number and the words ‘Scottish Terrier’ on it.
I rushed home to phone the number. No reply. Go the mail box twice. What now? I returned to the café and asked the cashiers what exactly happened. Had they seen the dog? Yes. What was he doing? Walking around the shop then went out into the street. Was he knocked over? I asked with tears beginning to gather in my eyes. First, some shakes of the shoulders, then, ‘there was a lady, she found the dog and left the note’. They didn’t think he’d been knocked over.
‘Are you looking for a Schnauzer?’ a man said overhearing the conversation from the ATM. ‘Yes,’ I said enthusiastically and walked over to him.
‘I know where he is,’ he said, ‘but just let me finish here.’
I waited impatiently while he drew the money. Finally he said.
‘Olga found him on the other side of the road. She took him home thinking someone must be missing him. Olga is my neighbour. I told her it was no Scottish Terrier, it was a Schnauzer. He had a lead.’
‘A lead?’ I said wondering if it was indeed Charlie. He didn’t have a lead on. Maybe we’re not talking about Charlie after all.
‘Come I’ll show you where he is,’ he said helpfully. I got into his car and we drove up Sandown road. It was almost pitch black by now. A few metres up the road he said:
‘There they are,’ and pointed to a woman who had two dogs, both on leashes. He made u-turn and stopped in front of them.
‘Charlie,’ I shouted as I got out the car. The lady explained she’d been walking up and down the road hoping that Charlie would recognize his own house.
Can I give you a hug? I asked and she agreed. I thanked her profusely and got Charlie into the man’s car (which he did reluctantly). Probably wondering who was spoiling his nice long walk. He took us back to where my mother was waiting in our car at the cafe. I took down the man’s name and the woman’s and returned home. A few minutes later she phoned to say she’d left her cell at home when she’d gone out looking for Charlie’s house but that she’d got the two messages I’d left. I thanked her again.
Ah, for the kindness of strangers. Should I send her flowers or chocolates?