Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Some Days You're the Bug, Some Days You're the Windshield

Beginning Thursday, June 26, 2008 through Monday July 1, I house/dog-sat for a co-worker at Updata (her name is Karen). The house was about 20 min North of Leesburg, in a fairly new neighborhood, of mostly farmland - very flat, large empty spaces, etc. Karen has three bichon-frises. I took on this responsibility knowing that I'd be alone in this house for 3 nights and 4 days, and that I wouldn't be seeing much of my friends or family in that time.

Thursday morning, I got up, packed a bag and went to work. When I got to work, I realized that I'd forgotten my cell phone charger at home, so decided that I would drive home to get it before heading out to Karen's house that night. I left work that evening at the usual time, met Dad for a sushi dinner, drove back home to get my charger and then began the hour and a half trip out to Karen and Chris' house. I fed the dogs, got myself acquainted with the house, put on my pajamas, locked up for the night, and got comfy. Then, I called Karen to let her know that everything was good and to tell her the progress that the workers had made on the deck they are installing behind their house. Karen asked me to take some dog treats outside, just to make sure that the dogs were using their dog-door, which opened onto the brand new decking. The dogs had never used this deck before, so Karen was unsure whether they would know how and be comfortable with using it. So, I slipped on my flip-flops and walked out the garage door with some treats, around the side of the house and onto the new decking. I tried to get the dogs to come out through the dog door, but they were scared. I pulled one of the dogs through the door, by force, to show him that it was safe. After that, he was gleefully running in and out of the door, as if to show off his new "trick". The other two remained inside. I walked back around the house, got one of the dogs from inside, and tried to show her from outside that she could get back in through the dog door. She got back in, and stayed there. I stayed outside.

I had locked the garage door behind me when I walked outside with the treats. Now, I was locked out, in my pajamas, at 10:30 at night, in a place I didn't know, with no cell phone, no car keys,...nothing. I looked around the neighborhood for a house with lights on, but there was none. So I walked to the nearest neighbor's house and knocked on the front door. I woke up Nazima and her two sons, who were 14 and 11 years old. I told them the situation, and asked if they had Karen's cell phone number, but the people in this neighborhood are not friendly with each other. They didn't have Karen's phone number. Nazima sent the boys back to the house with me to look for an open door or window, and to see if her 11-year old could fit through the dog-door at Karen's house. He didn't, and there were no open doors or windows. We walked back to Nazima's house, where I used the phone to call a locksmith. The locksmith told me he'd be there in 25 minutes. Three hours later, he was still not there, and as we found out later, had no intention of ever coming. Dad came out and waited with me for the locksmith, and finally, when we had given up, he took me back to his house to sleep for what was left of the night, so that we could handle this in the morning.

The following morning, I got up and called my office. Heather (the receptionist) gave me Karen's cell phone number. I told Heather I wouldn't be in on time, and explained the situation, and then I called Karen. I told Karen what had happened, and had her call her dog-walker, who had a key, thinking she could let me back into the house. The dog-walker did not answer the phone. Plan B: Karen called her friend Stacy, who had a spare house key, but was on vacation. Stacy's mother was staying at her house, and would give me the key if I stopped by. Dad drove me out to Stacy's house, where her mother, Dory, gave me the spare key, following which Dad drove me back to Karen's house and I was able to get into the house. By this time, it was nearly 12:30pm. Dad had missed his morning appointments to help me, and I was very late for work.

I showered, got dressed, met the dog-walker, who showed up at about 1:00. I got to work by 2, to lots of laughter from those who hadn't needed my help that day, and lots of annoyance from those who had. I will never live this one down at the office nor with my dad, who had been my life-saver once again.

Some first night, huh? The rest of the weekend was relatively less eventful, and went much smoother.

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