It lasted about four hours.
I was going to go to camping stores to research equipment options for surviving the heavy summer rains, to then put on my wish list. On the way to REI I stopped at a thrift store to look for non-Teflon skillets. I’d been there before and knew it was nicely organized, clean and had great deals.
When I entered, the clothes racks lured me over to look for skirts. My pants and skirts are now large enough that I frequently hitch them up, and any smaller clothes I might still possess are buried in storage.
I was enjoying myself, even browsed lingerie for no particular reason other than savoring the normalness of shopping. Then I saw a large basket full of eyeglass holders and started looking for one to replace the can cozy I’ve been using to store my eyeglasses overnight.
“Would the owner of a green Subaru wagon please….”
I immediately knew the reason for the page and approached the front desk.
“Is someone concerned about my dogs?”
“They are locked in the car with the air conditioning going and a water container. It is cooler in there than in here.”
The employee replied, “That doesn’t matter. The car car could cut out.”
“I don’t have anywhere else to take them.”
“How about taking them HOME,” he said.
“I live in my car. I don’t have anywhere else to take them.”
For a moment, concern and understanding flashed across his face. But I made the mistake of adding, “I’m homeless. That’s why I’m shopping in a thrift store.”
I knew as the words came out that my implication is false. Everyone shops in thrift stores. He took offense and launched into a lecture stating the same. “We have millionaires who come here,” is the highlight I best remember.
I nodded, tried to correct myself, “Yes, yes, you are right, that is correct,” but my words were lost in his tirade.
He pointed out that it is illegal to leave the dogs in a car in hot weather. The next words I remember are: “You have to take care of this, or I will call the police.”
I set the pile of clothes I’d picked down on the counter and told myself to stay calm while walking out.
Of course, the dogs were fine.
About 10 minutes later, pumping gas, the sobs came.
I abandoned plans to research tents and headed home. Halfway home I remembered I was to meet someone at five p.m. to buy a set of five folding tent poles for $10, possibly a match for the tent with no poles that my friends loaned me. And a deal, since a single pole goes for $25 at REI.
What a waste of gas. It is only early afternoon. I pull off on a little-used exit and find a dirt track under large electric poles. I let the dogs out, calling them back every time they disappear.
I eat a hard-boiled egg from the styrofoam cooler. Shit, I lost track of the dogs. They do not answer my calls. I’m screaming. We are well off the Interstate, but the area is unfamiliar to me.
Finally, they arrive. We head back to the city for the rendezvous, stopping first at a wifi spot to work while waiting for the appointment.