The Bridge Takes Its Toll

When I’m a backseat passenger in a car driven by my dad, I typically place my front paws over my ears.  Between his blaring music (if one can classify what he listens to as music), and his endless tirade at anything that slows or impedes his progress, the cacophony is mind-numbing.

A few days ago, we were approaching the westbound entrance to the Oakland Bay Bridge.  As traffic came to a standstill, Dad’s incessant grousing became louder and more liberally peppered with the most colorful language.  My paws simply were not equipped to muffle the onslaught.  Here is a sample of what my ears endured:

Look at this ****!!  And, you know what, Flap?  All the millions they’ve spent on this piece of ****, and they still **** it up. Caltrans contracted with a Chinese firm which has never built a bridge.  Then, Caltrans officials visited China on many occasions during the process and stayed at lavish hotels.  Where did they get the money to pay their expenses?  From the **** bridge tolls they’re charging all these vehicles.  So, yeah, let’s just wait in this **** line for another hour to two so we can have the honor of paying four dollars to help subsidize another boondoggle.  Then, with all the defective bolts and cracks in the concrete, we’ll be lucky if we don’t plunge to our deaths.

And, as we came closer to the toll booth, it just got worse:

Look at that **** toll guy up there!  Could he be any **** slower?  What does it take to receive a five dollar bill and give one dollar in change…is he giving an oral history of the bridge to every driver?  This is **** outrageous!!  Where do they train these guys, at a Tai Chi academy?

What happened next, you might place squarely in the category of “karma.”  It was finally Dad’s turn to pull up to the booth.  As he screamed, “It’s about **** time”, he thrusted his left hand containing four-one dollar bills at the toll-taker.  Only one problem:  Dad forgot to roll down his window.  Dad’s hand hit the glass with a loud thud, Dad screamed in pain, and the bills went flying throughout the car.  One of them landed by my nose.  It smelled a bit like a rack of lamb, so I ate it.  It only took Dad three minutes to locate the other three bills, and as he furiously searched for the fourth, the long line of cars behind us began a chorus of honking.  I heard one driver yell, “Some **** people are just born stupid.”

Well, suffice it to say that Dad finally found another dollar and we continued on our less than merry way.  Dad said, “Flap, would it have killed you to help me find the money back there?  I thought Aussies were supposed to be empathetic and helpful…look at you, just lying there.”  I guess he’s right.  I should have immediately formed a search party.  Oh well, with the rack of lamb still lingering on my taste buds, I guess it was my own karma that I get lambasted.

Later that day, on our return trip, we approached the Benicia Bridge.  I stretched my paw up front and inconspicuously rolled down Dad’s window.  I’m sure he would have remembered.  Oh yeah.


Don’t Pout About Drought

California is as dry as my moisture-less humor, as parched as parchment, as arid as Mojave sands on a relentlessly blazing summer…well, suffice it to say that we’re in a drought.  Now, this state has seen many droughts in its recorded history, but this is one of the worst.  And, when times get tough, people rise to the occasion and demonstrate the singular characteristic which has allowed humankind to perpetuate itself:  Survival of the fittest.  Charles Darwin, who was well schooled by his Australian Shepherd, opined that only the thirstiest will survive a drought, because they will resort to any means to obtain water.  When you consider that animals are mostly water (except Dad, who is mostly a desiccated composite of tissue and gooey stuff which science has yet to identify), you can understand the need to kill thy neighbor in order to drink thy fill.

And so it was that I discovered a tiny irrigation line running from my water dish, under the fence, to our neighbor’s yard.  This explained why my water supply had been evaporating at an alarming rate.  I confronted the culprit, an Irish Wolfhound named Seamus who has a legendary thirst and a talent for installing drip irrigation materials.  At first, he denied syphoning my water.  Then, when I brought my considerable legal acumen to bear, he became defensive.  So, employing my superior agility, I wrapped the irrigation line around his neck until he agreed to leave my water alone.

When I explained the Seamus situation to Dad, he was patronizingly complimentary.  He began blabbing about California water rights, the imposition of water use restrictions and the like, and said that my resolution with Seamus, while effective, was a very simplistic and violent solution to a larger, more complex set of problems.  Such problems, he said, must be addressed by learned individuals acting patiently, reasonably and respectfully with one another.  I listened.  Then I “accidentally” knocked over my indoor water dish so I could witness first hand my learned companion as he patiently, reasonably and respectfully cleaned up the mess.

Later in the day, after a homeowners’  association official (aka water police) witnessed me lifting my leg over a plant in the front yard, he cited my dad.  You see, we can only water grass and plants two days a week, and my irrigation activity did not occur on one of those two prescribed days.  Dad was furious.  I tried to calm him down by quietly explaining about California water rights, restrictions, etc.  You can probably guess how that went.

Now, I’m in my dog house, staring out at a waterless yard and thinking about my joyless dad.  I guess there are many kinds of droughts.