Last spring I met a man, Ricky, and his dog Cha Cha, alongside the road. Ricky told me he and Cha Cha had relocated to the Secret Coast in the winter after bicycling and trotting 1400 miles over the Rockies. He’d left Colorado after being struck by a car and suffering horrific injuries. He had to see the ocean after the accident. It was spiritual need, not religious.
On the journey from Colorado, many people had pulled over and gifted him with new, better bikes, a trailer for Cha Cha, food, and donations to pay vet bills when Cha Cha developed health problems.
Ricky said, “The dog opens doors for me and the dog unlocks people’s hearts.”
Presidents, preachers, pimps and High Tech Zillionares can’t do that. Why do we follow their snake oil instead of the slobber of dogs?
In the intervening months since we’d last talked, Ricky scored a caretaking gig for a clifftop mansion. He got the gig the same way we met. The mansion’s owner saw Ricky and Cha Cha rolling down the road, pulled over, and….well, see where talking to people can lead.
Before we parted, I gave Ricky a couple cans of emergency dog food stored in my car. I told him I’d help with more dog food and had a great bike if his ever broke down. He thanked me and we shook hands. I also shook hands with Cha Cha!
Some four months later, actually a few days ago, I was driving home from my construction job and I noticed a man and dog walking along the road, not far from my domicile. The man walked with a pronounced limp. The dog bounded along without a hitch.
I came closer. It was Ricky and Cha Cha! I stopped the car and powered down the window.
Ricky greeted me like an old friend. I asked about his missing bicycle. It was shot to hell, a busted chain on a custom bike, and he didn’t have a line on another one. He’d suffered a recent hernia and it was all he could do to take Cha Cha out for a walk. He wanted to ride again, bad. He thought it would be easier than walking.
I told him I had a great bike that I hadn’t ridden in seven months. It was all his, although the tires might be low, if not flat. Just follow me, I said, and you can have it.
Ricky and Cha Cha followed and I set him up with a sweet ride. The tires hadn’t lost a pound of pressure and the rig pedaled like a dream. He commented on how nice the bike was, first class, top notch components. I offered to buy Cha Cha some canned food from the nearby convenience store but he told me he was feeding her cooked chicken and steak.
Oh fuck yeah!
I offered to buy him dinner from the store.
“I could really use a beer,” he said, “a clamato kind.”
What was a clamato beer I asked?
He gave me the lowdown and a minute later he was the recipient of two 24-oz cans of some Budweiser picante-flavored clam/tomato concoction packaged in a special tote bag I rigged up for the bike.
Ricky thanked me. We shook hands. Cha Cha came over and shook my hand. Ricky rode away with Cha Cha flanking him to the right. I skipped and cried all the way to my home, utterly joyous.
Have you ever skipped and cried like that? I heartily recommend it.