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Charlie Hatton
Brookline, MA

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Howdy, friendly reading person!
I'm on a bit of a hiatus right now, but only to work on other projects -- one incredibly exciting example being the newly-released kids' science book series Things That Make You Go Yuck!
If you're a science and/or silliness fan, give it a gander! See you soon!

That’s the Way the Hooky Crumbles

Sometimes, even doing the right thing — well, a right thing, anyway — can make you feel guilty.

Yesterday, I took the dog to the local animal hospital. Partly, it was for a checkup on her pacemaker — yes, the pooch has a pacemaker, if you care to catch up. But also, she’s been out of sorts lately. Assuming there’s such a thing as “in sorts” for this dog any more. She’s had everything from cancer to skin tags, cardio distress to sour tummy. And often several at the same time. I’m starting to think she’s eaten a cat, and is slowly barfing up its nine lives.

At any rate, I told the office that I’d be in a little late, and made my way to the dog-spital for a morning appointment. I figured I’d be in and out in forty-five minutes, maybe an hour tops. Then I could swing the pup back home and hop into work, in plenty of time for lunch. Or maybe even brunch.

“I’m starting to think she’s eaten a cat, and is slowly barfing up its nine lives.”

(We don’t have brunch at work. We totally should, but we don’t. Bloody Marys would make team progress meetings go so much faster.)

So, we showed up for the appointment, which began on time. They weighed the dog — she’s forty percent Snausage at this point — and took her in for a quick exam. I described the various intermittent issues she’s been having — excessive thirst, occasional vomiting (when she’s eating), loss of appetite (when she’s not horking), and gas.

(Good freaking lord, the gas. Some people have dogs whose farts can peel the paint off the living room walls. When our girl lets go, the television stops picking up channels over 80.

I don’t know how that works. I just know that to watch Top Gear, I have to either put her in the bedroom or plug her with a cork.)

The doc’s assistant — is that a “corgi-striper”, by the way? — dutifully took notes and asked probing and important clinical questions, like: “So, if she’s drinking a lot, does she urinate often?

No. No, not at all. She’s taken to storing extra water on a hump on her back, like a freaking dromedary. Quite remarkable, really.

Yes, of COURSE the dog is peeing. Like, every twelve minutes. I’ve considered calling Yellowstone Park to ask whether Old Faithful is missing, because I’m fairly certain it ran away and crawled up her butt.

So we go through all of this, and they decide to run some tests. They need blood. They need urine — nooooo problem there. The EKG on the pacemaker is inconclusive, so they decide an X-ray is in order. And there’s a line of furry patients already in line for the X-ray machine.

Long story short, I got to work at three in the afternoon. I was trying to do the right thing and care for my dog, to make sure her various parts — natural, artificial and spewing — are all working as best they can, but in the process I mostly-accidentally took most of a day away from the office.

I didn’t feel great about it. I didn’t miss any meetings, and I planned to stay late to accomplish a few things, but it didn’t feel right, wandering in at three o’clock, lunch in hand. I felt conspicuous. Vulnerable. Guilty.

And so it came to be that I stood by the first-floor elevators, waiting to ride up and occupy a desk that had sat empty and dark for over half the workday. I nervously hoped no one saw me slink in. That’s when I heard my name:


It came from behind me, in the direction of the building door, and I thought I recognized the voice. It was far enough away that I thought I could pretend not to hear it. The elevator opened and I slipped inside.

Hey! Charlie!!

Footsteps now. And I knew the voice. The good news: it wasn’t my boss. The bad? It’s was my boss’ boss. Now hurrying behind me, and surely with many questions about my insolent tardiness. I tried to be discreet as I desperately punched the “Door Close” button while I slowly turned around.

My plan was to feign recognition at the last moment, and shrug helplessly as the door closed. By the time he’d caught the next elevator, I’d be back at my desk. Or hiding in a bathroom stall. Or skulking in a stairwell. I hadn’t planned quite that far.

On cue I turned, flashed the requisite “oh, hi!” and shrugged as the door slid shut.

The only problem was, he was faster than I thought. He’d made it to the elevator, and was now standing beside me inside it. I freaked out, spontaneously jabbering;

Yeah, so, my dog is sick! And there was an X-ray! We couldn’t go in front of the three-legged poodle. We couldn’t! I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to be late. She pees, all the time! Like a spray hose! Psssshh!! PSSSSSHHHHHH!!

At this point, I’d dropped my lunch. One hand was grabbing him by the lapel, while I mimed some sort of spray hose or water jet or possibly inadvertently giant phallic object to go along with all the “PSSSSSHHHHH“-ing. Finally, out of breath, I caught myself. I let go. I took a step back. I stopped spitting and hosing and ranting about dog wee. And I looked at my boss’ boss, waiting for him to speak to see whether I still had a job.

Finally, he cleared his throat and said:

I, uh… was just going to ask you to hold the elevator.

Oh. Well, great, then. Mission accomplished.

Mercifully, the door opened at our floor and we went our separate ways. I didn’t look back — and no teams of security men showed up to escort me out of the building. So basically, I spent five hours sitting with a bunch of sick animals, worked about a half day, and traumatized a guy whose office chair probably costs more than my car. Also, I didn’t have lunch, because I left it in the elevator. And I didn’t look back.

So that was my Friday. How the hell was yours?

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