The Train Is Coming. 

Yesterday morning I found myself unwillingly cast as the damsel-in-distress in a Charlie Chaplin-era black and white. 

Six a.m. found me hunched over in the pre-dawn darkness, stuck in the middle of Fillmore Street — a busy thoroughfare in my neighborhood. Desperately attempting to complete a mission-critical task, alternating with panicked glances up and into the oncoming traffic. 

Finish the job. Get hit by a Prius. Finish the job. Get hit by a MUNI bus. I knew exactly how the silent film actress in the image above must have felt. 

True, I did not suffer under the duress of a sledgehammer-wielding, bushy-eyebrowed villain. Nor from the constraints of heavy chains. Nor from the menace of 3 bad guys with really really good hatmakers. 

My situation was far more dire. 

My black labbish “puppy” had selected this precarious spot to execute her morning constitution. Nevermind the overabundance of safe venues in the immediate vicinity: empty driveways, sparse sidewalks, even a briefcase-sized patch of grass here and there. An embarrassment of riches as far as morning constitution-ready locales go. 

Instead, she strikes the unmistakable pose mid-street, mid-stride. Full exploiting the element of awful surprise on her “master.” Once she has achieved the squat, there is no moving her. That would only exacerbate the situation, as I dragged a 70-pound statue shedding smaller pieces of statue across a wider field array. 

Nope. Not an option. I’m just going to have to commit to this and make the best of it. 

Fumbling with the lightweight plastic poop bag dispenser velcro’d to the people end of her leash. Careful to avoid the continuous blue bag spool spooling out onto the street. Desperately thumbing with numb fingers in darkness over the flat sheet of bags, searching for the perforation. And then once perforated, anxiously probing both ends of the still-flat, seemingly vacuum-packed bag. Distinguishing between the open end where one’s hand gets inserted, and the sealed end that must remain sealed is absolutely critical. Botch that and you’re in for an uncomfortable walk home with contaminated fingers outstretched. 

And all the while, the train is barreling down the tracks. I feel it coming, ready to roll over me, and my animal. any moment now. 

Wailea has finished her part by this point, and now it is my turn in the process. Assembly-line perfection. But with an electric bus bearing down on us imminently. Skittish, I have to dart back to the spot on the street more than once, looking like I’m delicately handling molten lava.  Hot! Hot! Or maybe my manic efforts to finish the job bear resemblance to the “Ickey Shuffle” (without the “cold cuts today!” celebratory yells). No celebration, this. 

The deed is done, at last. I sprint away and yank the dog’s collar, just a split second before….

Nothing. No MUNI bus. No silver little Prius. No black smoke-spewing locomotive. No wild-eyed bandits poised to pound my noggin with a ball-peen hammer. No rusty chains around my ankles. Just a blue plastic bag full of poop and an overactive imagination. In other words, another Monday morning start to the week. 

Thanks for reading. 


  1. I keep thinking I want a dog in my life again..but I keep hearing (reading) stories that give me pause… 🙂

  2. What cracks me up!! Is the stares you get from people all the while you are picking up this god awful mess! I wonder what the look would be if I left it? Not that I would since I am a responsible dog owner whom ties doggy bags to the handle of the leash….Eeks!!!! I must say it’s not fun when you have to walk a block or two just to be able to toss in garbage!

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