Thursday, July 9, 2015


I’m three-quarters of the way down the street from our house. I have our household broom in my hands and I’m rather frantically sweeping the street! I’ve decided the broom bristles are not quite as stiff as I need them to be when I notice a car slowing down beside me and I hear a tentative voice query, “Richard?”

I stop sweeping and turn around to hear the driver say, “I thought it was you”. He wanted to let me know he’s been listening to me on the radio and that I sound good, but I sound different than I did on television. I thank him, wish him a nice day, dismiss the need for an explanation, but still think to myself, “awkward”.

It must have seemed strangely random to see me sweeping the pavement with such crazed zeal, unable to get the bits of glass out of the pock-marked road surface because the bristles were too soft!

I walk the dogs to a street corner every day to meet my wife, who gets off the train. The season starts off fine, with freshly cleaned roads. Inevitably, a few weeks in, there are spots of roadway strewn with pieces of smashed glass. Unless you’re obsessively vigilant, people will unwittingly walk their dogs over these bits of glass. I decided to sweep them myself which is what I was doing yesterday when the car pulled over.

What can you do?

It wasn’t as awkward as my last trip to the dog groomer. I arrived right on time and walked our Westie, Spike, into the waiting room. I could hear the groomer working on a dog as the customer and his daughter chatted and directed her scissors. It sounded like some last-minute problem with the animal’s fur. I didn’t look into the room, but stood in the waiting area with fidgeting Spike at the end of his leash. All of a sudden, I was overcome by a terribly foul stench. For those first few seconds, stunned by its potency and mystified by its sudden onset, I could think of no rational explanation, which, unfortunately, meant I’d have none to apologetically offer to the groomer and customers as they staggered past me to leave.

I could hear they were finishing their visit. My eyes watering, I desperately looked around the small waiting area for an explanation and spotted a fresh pile of excrement on the floor as Spike casually stared off into the distance, content he’d made his feelings known about visits to the groomer. Worse, I had inadvertently stepped in it. Standing on one leg, reeling from the sight of this steaming mound, eyes watering from the smell, right on cue, the customers and groomer came out of the room.

The customer immediately exclaimed, “Richard Dagenais!” I smiled, looking down at the mess as a gentle reminder I had other concerns. Seemingly oblivious, he asked, excitedly, “Do you know who I am?” I quickly confessed I did not. He asked again, “You don’t know who I am?” By this time, the groomer had retreated into her work area and re-emerged with a bottle of cleaning spray and paper towel. I offered to clean it myself. She refused the offer, got down on her hands and knees and scrubbed her floor. The customer was disappointed, “Are you sure you don’t know who I am?” I admitted perhaps I should know who he was, but I did not. The groomer began pulling the freshly tainted sneaker off my foot. I felt terrible about the mess and the stink but was no longer entirely sure I should feel terrible about my inability to identify this persistent customer.

It turns out he was the husband of one of my wife’s friends and I had met him once before, months, or years ago. I’m pretty sure I shook his hand as he and his daughter left the groomer’s house, but I really don’t remember it. I do remember thinking, “awkward”.

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