Random Thoughts on Driving in the Rain, Time Flying and a Dog’s Gratitude — and Guilty Conscience

By Joe Darby

There’s no one theme to this week’s column, but rather it’s a compendium of different things that happened this week, as well as some thoughts on how quickly life goes.

First of all, it’s Tuesday afternoon and I got back from Alexandria a while ago, after having a doctor’s appointment there. All went fine until I got about 20 miles south of Natchitoches when the weather hit. I could see a few miles ahead that a heavy shower was falling but it was off to the west and I hoped I could avoid it.

But the darned thing was moving east and by the time I got to it, it was smack over the interstate. I have never, to my recollection, ever driven in a harder rain than the one I went through Tuesday. The falling water almost had a vicious quality to it, beating down on my car with such fury that it seemed it was attacking me. I slowed from 75 to below 50 but I still couldn’t see. (I was afraid to slow down too much lest I get hit in the rear.)

At its most intense, the rain was so hard I could not see the lane markers in the roadway and if I’d had the misfortune to come upon a bend, it’s likely I would have gone off the road. Usually when the rain is that hard, it covers only three, four or five miles. I think this one was spread out over maybe 10 miles. I was experiencing true white knuckle driving. And, would you believe, after the peak of the storm but when it was still coming down quite heavily, cars started to pass me. Texans, most likely.

Anyway, the rain slacked off just before I got to Exit 127 and I, obviously, made it home safely. But somehow, having experienced a certain amount of danger put my old mind to thinking about how quickly life goes by.

When I think of certain events and realize how long ago they occurred, it simply amazes me. Here’s just a few (and one would have to be pretty advanced in age to remember some of them, I realize.)

My high school graduation — 61 years!

John F. Kennedy’s death — 58 years!

My first full-time professional journalism job — 56 years!

The celebration of the nation’s Bicentennial in 1976 — 45 years! (It’s almost time to start gearing up for the 250th anniversary, if leftist culture doesn’t decide our Independence was a bad thing and cancels the celebration.)

Operation Desert Storm — 30 years!

The 9/11 attack — 20 years.

It just goes on and on. It doesn’t seem possible that any of these events happened so long ago.

Finally, may I share with you some antics of my dog Baby? I like Chenille spreads and as you know, after a while, they tend to become just a bit unraveled in places. Well, Baby caught a toenail claw in a small hole in the spread and became all upset, and I’m sure she was in minor pain as well as being scared.

So as I moved toward her to help her out and, I swear, the look of trust in that dog’s eyes was overwhelming. She just knew it was going to be alright. Rather than jerking her paw about, she calmly relaxed it so I could work it free, all the while looking at me with such love. And when I popped it free, she was all over me, showing a gratitude that was simply amazing, coming from a dog.

And last, but not least, I want to tell you that Baby has a conscience, even if she can put it aside temporarily for food. I’d gone out to bring a meal home, either a hamburger or pizza, I forget which. When I walked in and sat on the couch, Baby performed her usual begging routine, sitting next to me and awaiting any little morsel that might come her way.

As soon as we’d finished, she wanted to go out in the backyard, so I opened the door and out she went. After a few minutes, I tried to let her in but she refused to come back into the house. She’d never acted like that before and it took some persuading, along with a tempting treat, to get her back in. I was puzzled.

But when I walked into my bedroom I understood what was going on. I’d left candy wrappers on my bedside table and Baby had reached over to check them out, knocking several things onto the floor and causing a little mess in general. Aha. That’s why she didn’t want to come in. She knew she had been a bad girl and was ashamed to face the consequences, even if I didn’t realize it. So, don’t ever let someone tell you that dogs don’t know right from wrong!