Thursday, February 14, 2008

Whistle while you work


The dogs creeped out from under the trailer. I stepped back slowly.


I could see them clearly now. Two lean, medium sized black dobermans. I stepped back quickly. The dogs kept coming.

I quietly called out to my partner, not wanting to further aggravate the tightly wound beasts carefully making their way toward me. The dobermans were about 10 feet away by now and my back was almost to the car.

I quickly opened the passenger side door and slammed it shut. My partner slid into the seat next to me moments later. We looked at each other. I cursed loudly. This was to be our test. Our first neighborhood in the poorest county of a state that had been overwhelmed by a series of hurricanes.

Washed out dirt roads. Church preachers with crooked grins. Militias. A man who initially welcomed me with open arms... till he found out who I was working for. After being chased off his lawn my partner scribbled “uncooperative” in his report. We would learn to whistle when we approached a house/trailer. If something larger than a lapdog appeared we'd get right back in our car and drive off. We learned that staying off the properties that had “No Trespassing” or “Posted” signs was less about being courteous and more about not getting shot.

This was my test. A dose of reality for a recent idealistic college graduate who was desperate for work. At that time a few weeks doing contract relief work seemed better than serving BBQ to yuppie soccer moms and white collar execs who stiffed you on tips.

As I sat in thick Northern Virginia traffic today I cursed the world and pitied myself. And then I remembered relief work. HA!

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