Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Good Samaritan Ridgeback

Ginger, my six-year-old Rhodesian Ridgeback thinks about things. I sometimes catch her staring at me when I am talking – as though she is understanding a lot of the words I’m using. I encourage this. I used to have a German Shorthaired Pointer who wouldn’t take “no” for an answer when she wanted to go on a walk. Ginger doesn’t do that. She will take “no” for an answer, but I need the exercise and try to go along with her as much as possible. And that’s true of other things she wants as well. When she sits by my desk and stares at me, I try to figure out what she wants and accommodate her – as long as it isn’t one more treat -- when she’s had enough.

Last night we were walking west on Ramona Blvd. We had just crossed over to the north side of the street. My plan was to walk down toward Sanderson as far as the sidewalk would let us and then return. It was about 23:00. A car came toward us from the west. Its engine seemed erratic and it sounded as though something was dragging. I had heard that sound before – a tail pipe or muffler dragging on the road. The driver turned right onto Harvest which is right next to the Potter Ranch Park.

Oh well, I thought, and tried to walk on. We had a long way to go. But Ginger didn’t want to go. She kept staring back in the direction of the malfunctioning car. I could just see the front of it behind some trees. Then the driver pulled it around so it was facing Ramona Blvd and turned his lights out.

Oh well, I thought to myself again. “Come on Ginger let’s go.” But she continued to stare in the direction of the car and I thought, “what if it’s a woman and Ginger is hearing her crying?”

“Okay, Ginger. We’ll at least walk by and see what’s going on.”

As we approached the car a young man got out. I asked, “do you need any help?”

“Someone ran into my car,” he said.

Now this has happened to my wife on a couple of occasions. She has come back to her car in some parking lot to discover that someone has run into her, and typically hasn’t left a note. “Ah,” I said. “Did you call someone to come pick you up? Do you have a cell phone?”

“No,” I don’t have one,” he said. Then he brightened, “do you?”

“Yes,” I said digging into my pocket and then handing it to him.

He called a friend named Chris, identified himself as Rene, and tried to describe where he was but couldn’t manage it. I live not so far from there, but had a tough time describing where Rene was. San Jacinto had scrimped on street signs. Also, we were in what some might describe as the Boonies. There were no stores or gas stations near us. There wasn’t a sign at the corner of Harvest and Ramona Blvd, and there may not have been one on Ramona Blvd and Sanderson. Chris had a very hard time understanding how to get to where Rene was stranded. But I thought he finally understood my directions.

Rene then looked at me appreciatively and said, “It’s as though God sent you here to help me.”

“It wasn’t me, Rene. I was all set to go on, but Ginger wouldn’t hear of it. She thought you were in trouble.”

“Oh,” he said and knelt down and put his arms around Ginger’s neck, and called her “Mama. He seemed very emotional. Ginger, Good Samaritan though she may have been, wasn’t at all sure she wanted Rene’s affection. She visibly squirmed, but tolerated the attention. Rene planted a kiss on her head and stood up, shaking my hand for the second time.

By this time I thought it was best to return home. We hadn’t gotten too far before Chris called me, apologizing. He said he had confused Sanderson for Stetson in his thinking and was thoroughly confused. So I gave him a new set of instructions – which took some time and then we went home.

An hour or so later I put the girls in the Jeep and drove back to make sure Chris had found Rene. I saw a car behind Rene’s and turned onto Harvest thinking it was probably Chris. It wasn’t. It was a policeman. He was sitting in his vehicle presumably communicating with someone on his car phone. I rolled down my window and asked, pointing to Chris’s car. “Is he there, was he picked up?”

The cop said, “I don’t’ see anyone there.” He was surly and rude..

I added, “He had car trouble. I called a friend of his to come pick him up and just stopped by to see if he had.”

The cop didn’t look up or respond to what I said; so I drove on. I rarely see a cop when we go out for a walk and it didn’t seem likely he would be assuming Rene’s car was abandoned quite so quickly.

I thought this over as I drove home. Rene did say someone ran into him. Maybe he was in an accident. Maybe he should have stayed at the scene but didn’t. Maybe he was involved in a hit-and-run.

“Ah Ginger,” I said to her later. “I thought you were a Good Samaritan, but you may just be an “accessory after the fact.” But by the time she was on her blanket and about to go to sleep. She opened her eyes and rolled them toward me with little interest and then closed them again. She leaves matters like that entirely up to me.

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