After four years of putting off getting Texas license plates, I finally got pulled over a couple weeks ago and was given a month to get my car registered in Texas. I spent a few hours getting the process started on Monday and quickly remembered why I’d put it off so long. It took a ton of legwork just to figure out what I needed and when all’s said and done, it’s going to cost me over $400, including the $125 it cost to have my dad get an expedited duplicate title sent to me from Illinois. He called me Tuesday morning to let me know he’d gotten the title and it was on its way to me. I decided to celebrate by swimming laps and going to the grocery store before work Tuesday afternoon. I came outside feeling relieved, with a bathing suit on and a towel in hand, ready to go when I discovered my car’s rear windshield had been obliterated.
I just stared at it for a few seconds. Then I took a picture. Then I called my dad. We decided I had to file a police report and call my insurance company. After relaying all of the details twice, they both told me there wasn’t really anything they could do. Whoever smashed my window hadn’t taken anything, so the police didn’t need to investigate and I had a $500 deductible on my car and this was going to cost around $300, so all the insurance company could do was hook me up with a glass replacement place. When they apologized for not being able to fix it until the next day, they knocked the cost down to $226. I was excited to work from home, but I didn’t even get to hang out with Caitlin due to a disappointing dinner at The Emerald*.
*My dad and I had been planning a dinner together, just the two of us, for a long time. I’d wanted him to check out the Emerald after Zack and I were treated so well there for our anniversary, and he did everything Zack had done — called ahead to make a reservation, let them know I was a vegetarian so to please set aside a veggie plate for me. We even bought the Groupon this time, like before we arrived at the restaurant! However, the service was god-awful. We didn’t have the sweet Irish lady who served Zack and me the last time I was there; we had some woman named Laura who seemed absolutely lost every time we said a word to her. My “veggie plate” literally consisted of one branch of broccoli, 5 carrots, and one small potato. Yup. Still, it was great to spend time with my dad.
On Wednesday morning I drove to the glass place with no back windshield and only got a couple tiny cuts on my hand. I was kind of concerned I’d be impaled by all the loose glass flying at me, like that scene from Ghost, so this was a win in my book. My favorite part was when the technician told me to wait as he went to my car for a pre-inspection. He took two steps out the door, saw the entirely shattered windshield and came right back inside, saying “OK, inspection over.” Caitlin was kind enough to pick me up, drive me the 15 minutes to work, have lunch with me in the cafe and then drive me right back to get my car. I super appreciated that. The glass place vacuumed up all the loose glass and even cleaned up the car a bit. Almost worth the $226! As I would soon text Caitlin, I was about to have an experience far worse than spending $226 on something I didn’t do.
When he wants to be, Scooby is the most chill dog in the world. This was Thursday morning.
On Thursday I went downstairs to check the mail and walk Scooby at 2:20, a few minutes before I had to leave for work. He was acting frisky, so I decided to give him a quick jog. We ran down the hallway of my apartment building, and as we got to the end of the hall, we slowed down to a walk. Well, I slowed down, and he acted like he was going to, but as soon as I did, he started running again. Being in flip flops, I was unprepared for the sudden stop and start and lost hold of his leash and he just bolted.
He flew down the steps, dragging his leash behind him as it skipped down the steps and along the pavement. He made a mad dash across the parking lot as I followed fairly closely behind, screaming his name. In case you didn’t know, Scooby is the fastest dog on earth, and I was wearing flip flops. The more I called after him, the faster he ran. Catching him was futile, but I thought I’d surely be able to corner him at the gated entrance to the lot. There was no way he could fit through that small gap in between the two gates. He hardly broke stride, squeezing through and continuing his sprint onto sixth street. I had to use all of my adrenaline to push the doors open and continue after him, but I’d nearly lost sight of him as he’d now put a full block between us.
I kicked off my flip flops and ran harder than I did when I was a little kid turning off the lights in the basement at night, sprinting upstairs because I’d convinced myself witches were following me and I had to outrun them. I ran and ran, but he was becoming a blur in the distance as I ran harder, trying desperately to keep up with him. I frantically tried to wave down cars to drive me around to chase after him. No one would stop. A passerby saw me running and pointed to an alley and said “the dog went that way!” I ran harder, thinking he was headed to Church’s on 7th for the chicken. He loves chicken bones. He wasn’t there. I could no longer see him. No one was around to see him. And now that I’d stopped running, the adrenaline was morphing into fear and I could now feel what had happened to my feet.
The ground was so incredibly hot that I’d scalded the bottoms of my feet. I had a dozen blisters on each foot. They took up every inch of my foot that had made contact with the ground. I winced with each step and now realized I could barely walk. I couldn’t put pressure on any part of my foot. I leaned on the sides of my feet, hobbling on 7th street, feeling completely hopeless. I didn’t know what to do. I was now six blocks from home, had no idea where Scooby could be and I couldn’t walk another step. I started to fear the worst. That he ran into the street and was hit by a car and killed. I was seconds away from a complete and total breakdown. What could I do next? I couldn’t go to work until I found him. I had to keep going, but where? And how? I was now in the worst physical pain I’d felt in years, while still an emotional wreck from thinking I’d let Scooby go and now he was gone forever.
Should I call Caitlin? She was in the middle of a work event and I didn’t want to worry her yet. Should I tweet for help? Telling anyone on the east side to look for my dog? I picked up my phone, not sure who to reach out to first. I’m embarrassed to admit that my first text was to be to my boss to say I would be late. Before I could even finish the text, I looked up from my phone, and there he was. There was Scooby, across the street, being held on his leash by a blond stranger on her phone. I pathetically yelled out, “Dog! That’s! That’s my dog!” “This is your dog?” “YES! Thank you! Thank you!”
I yelled across the street asking if she could please bring the dog to me. Then I thought better of it and asked if she could please drive him over and drive me home. I know I was being demanding, but I honestly don’t think I could have made it home, especially not without shoes. I got in her car, thanking her over and over until we reached the apartment. I didn’t even bother trying to find my flip flops I’d abandoned, I just slowly made my way upstairs while alternating between petting Scooby, being thrilled he was OK, and giving him stern pulls on his collar, letting him know he’d done something very wrong. He walked even slower than I hobbled, seemingly knowing he was in trouble. I was drenched in sweat and my feet were still throbbing in constant pain, but I didn’t even stop to change clothes. I put on two pairs of socks and through exceptional pain put on my shoes and went to work.
Even with two pairs of socks and shoes on for support, I was barely walking. I had to lean on anything near me just to get to my car, and for every minute of the drive, I was in non-stop unimaginable pain. Even putting my foot on the gas and brake pedals felt like someone was using a jackhammer on my feet. I took the elevator up to my desk on the second floor, hobbling through the halls, getting bizarre looks from people I didn’t know in the office. I finally made it in 15 minutes late and my cube mate sees me covered in sweat, gimping my way to my seat and asks if I’m OK. I tell him I’m not, but get to work anyway. After an hour of being there, I take my shoes off and decide I should really clean the blisters out. I ask if he wants to see the damage before I do and as soon as I show him the gigantic blisters he immediately tells me I need to seek medical attention. I protest for a few minutes, but he insists.
Caitlin is in the middle of putting on a big event, so I don’t want to bother her, but my cube mate has my boss find her in the event and tells her I need to go to urgent care*. She graciously comes to get me immediately and in no time they’re giving me a tetanus shot and cleaning out the wound to make sure it doesn’t get infected.
*When Zack’s boss Matt approached me, we’d never met in person before, but I’d heard about how much of a prankster he was. So when he opened with, “Hey Caitlin? Zack needs you to take him to urgent care,” my natural response was, “Pshhh, yeah right. Sure, Matt.” But then Matt looked serious and said, “No, really, I think he messed his feet up or something chasing your dog?” Wait…he knew about the dog? Oh, God. The reality started to sink in and a pit formed in my stomach. I left the work event — the last one I’d put on in my rotation role — and rushed to get Zack.
The tetanus shot didn’t hurt at all, but scrubbing out the blisters was unbearable. The shot is a 2/10 on the pain scale and the scrubbing is a solid 7 or 7.5. They tell me to stay off my feet for a few days and note that I’ll probably be in pain for another week. They wrap my feet up in bandages, after putting a topical cream on, and send me home with a prescription for Hydrocodone. Caitlin takes me home, gets me comfortable on the couch, makes me dinner and lets me relax with the NBA draft. We still don’t get to hang out, since she had plans to have a drink with her boss and coworkers, but I’m OK watching sports without her for a couple hours. The recovery was much shorter than I was told. I was still hobbling around on Friday, but by Saturday I was feeling great, walking around with no pain, bowling a lifetime best 193 and even riding the exercise bike.
Emotionally, I really felt it for a few days. The next few times we walked Scooby or were near the few blocks where I lost him, I had terrible flashbacks and felt guilty as I relived the event. All in all, I’m relieved that everything that happened was just temporary. I’m out $226, but I’ll get my plates finalized on Friday. Scooby’s fine, except for a slight scratch on his paw that he suffered while running away that healed up the next day after he licked it a bunch.
I still have a few big blisters on my feet, but the pain is all gone, aside from a lingering dead arm from the tetanus shot, but I’m pretty much back to normal. I couldn’t have made it through the week without Caitlin driving me around everywhere, supporting me when I was doubting myself about letting Scooby run away and taking care of me and bringing me flowers and ice cream to make me feel better. It meant a lot to me, even if I wasn’t the best patient the day or two after it happened.
The only sad permanent thing we learned, is that Scooby will never be an off the leash dog. We’d started training him to be off the leash at Zilker Park the week before, but he just has too much of a wild streak in him. We just can’t risk him running away again. Or sneaking off to break my windshield.