When our son, Caleb, left Mexico last August to return to school, Steve and I agreed to keep his dog, Honeycomb. Honeycomb became my constant companion. We walked the beach and swam together. We hiked. We hung out at the pool. Honeycomb loved car rides, so I often took him with me when I ran short errands into town. These were adventures in and of themselves.
After a particularly disastrous hair appointment (mine, not his), The Comb and I set out to find anything that could help me get through the next eight weeks. We pulled into the parking lot of a local market and were immediately approached by a man a little down on his luck. Using the opportunity to practice my Spanish, I explained that I did not have any change at the moment but would after leaving the store. I asked if the man would be willing to look after my car for me while I shopped, making sure my dog was okay while I was gone. I would then, of course, pay him for his time. (Don’t worry, animal lovers. I left the car running; the air conditioning was on, and the doors were locked.
Even though my hair was hidden under a hat, I was not wasting any serious time in public. I was in and out in five minutes, tops. (This was most certainly a record setter. Usually, lines move much more slowly, as Mexican people are not nearly as preoccupied with time as Americans.) As I left the store, I glanced over at my car. The Comb was watching me. There was no one watching The Comb, however! I quickly scanned the parking lot and found my dog sitter across the way. I decided to pay him anyway. And am I ever glad I did!
Apparently, very soon after I walked into the store, a group of robbers came over to the car to try and snatch my dog. The Comb’s hired guard put himself between the thieves and my car. They hit him repeatedly with a stick. At this point in his story, he actually began crying and pointed to his arm. I opened my car door and gave him a Kleenex. He was away from the car because the Municipal Police had just driven by. He flagged them down and explained to them that there were vicious robbers in the area. They had attacked him and tried to steal my dog! He said the police just left in hot pursuit. I actually looked down the street, expecting to see the car chase!
I had recently learned the phrase “cuídate” (take care) and said it over and over while patting this “brave” man on his arm. I paid him a little extra for all the effort he put into protecting Honeycomb, err, for telling such a great story. Down on his luck? This guy could be a screenwriter or an actor! This was probably the most creative excuse I had ever heard for shirking responsibility while on the job. I briefly wondered if I might ever have an occasion to use it. I drove away laughing at the silliness of the tale, and the fact that I understood all of it. (Those Spanish lessons were paying off.) The Comb? He was tired of the car by now, ready to go home, and chase some geckos!