Duck of Justice

The Duck of Justice for 7/27/17: Lessons learned from a sleeping puppy

From The Bangor Police Department

The puppy was discovered with stolen merchandise, and is currently being cared for.

The pathway through our lives can be controlled to a certain extent. We make choices based on the information presented to us and sometimes, even if we do everything right, outside influences can take us to places where we should not be.

It is what we do when placed in bad situations that defines us. Believing you can control all the outside influences is a fallacy. Being in control of oneself, while in the middle of chaos or questionable circumstances, will in the end be a factor by which others judge you.

I would say this puppy, discovered resting in a shopping cart full of stolen merchandise, could be the best representation of how we can react while other people do things that are beyond our control.
Sure, we can still love them, but we don’t need to support their bad choices or tell them that it’s alright to continue doing bad things. Being present in their lives does not mean we have to become involved or make excuses for their bad behaviors.

The puppy loves unconditionally, so should we. This does not mean we cannot allow loved ones to answer for their actions, hoping that they will turn their lives around and return to healthier existence free of crime and poor decision making.

The owner of the puppy was arrested. The puppy will be cared for until the owner gets their life in order. In the end, it will be the best thing for both of them.

And that is the parable of the sleeping puppy.

You always rest well when your conscience is clear.

The nap was interrupted by the late afternoon fog rolling up the lake from the Atlantic, the ocean was not far away if you didn’t have to rely on pavement or crushed gravel to get there.

It wasn’t the fog that woke me; fog is silent, welcome, and expected on the coast of Maine. It was the mist that was atomized by the twenty-year old screens meant to protect me from mosquitos who wouldn’t take no for an answer. The floating droplets wafted down gently to my face and was a far more pleasant alarm than any sound which ever emanated from a man-made device.

The Washington County, Maine contingent of PWTPIAPS (People Who Think Pie Is A Perfect Supper) was officially called to order. Camp weekend was coming to a close and my feet slamming to the floor of the porch awakened the only other charter-member within several miles. I’ll call him Dave, simply because that’s his name. He had found the couch to his liking and I knew he was awake because his snoring stopped abruptly.

I am embarrassed to declare that we had not come close to finishing the work we had gone to camp to do, but the naps are mandatory regardless of whether or not the list is complete. We had slipped into Lubec earlier that day to do some official fried clam testing. The nap could have been a dreaded clam-coma because Becky did not disappoint. I’ll do further research at a later date.

I yelled into the cottage that we should skip supper and just take the ATV to Helen’s for raspberry pie before it got too dark. More importantly, before the pie was sold out. He grunted and went looking for his shoes and a jacket to shed the heavy mist.

We were soaked before we got there. The good news is, if you sit at the bar, no one cares if your shirt is wet and you don’t have to wait in line. If you have ever been to Helen’s you already know how good the pie was. You also know how long the line can be.

Full of pie, eastbound under darkening skies, and soaked again, we came across a young man who had run out of fuel and was standing beside his older Suzuki Quad (purchased for a righteous price from an older gentleman who no longer had a need for the conveyance. I am inquisitive in matters of importance).

We stopped because that’s what you do in Maine. I asked him if he was out of gas and even though I already knew the answer, it’s a heck of an icebreaker. He smiled and said, “I thought I had enough to get home.” A handsome kid, he was wearing well torn jeans, a dusty shirt, and most notably he was shoeless. He had taken off his helmet and and was standing on coarse gravel that didn’t seem phase him a bit. I would have been doing the painful-shuffle if standing on the same ground without my shoes.

I made a mental note to ask him about it if the opportunity presented itself. The 6-inch sheathed hunting knife swinging from his belt didn’t bother me a bit. I admired his preparedness. It’s Maine, knives are as common as iPhones are in the places with better cell tower coverage. Remind me to tell you the story of getting my knife taken away at the Hoover Dam. That’s a song for another time.

I had no gas-can, and nothing to siphon a little from my tank, so I told him that Dave would get out he could get in. I would give him to the store and try to find a container to put fuel in when we arrived. I knew it was close to closing time.

I saw that he had an empty plastic soft drink bottle wedged in his front rack and told him to bring it just in case. It was a good idea. The phrase “just in case” has saved me more times than I can count. It might be the best three word sentence this side of “that was stupid,” or “I shouldn’t have.”

Dave started walking in the direction of camp and the kid and I drove back into East Machias. I asked him over the roar of the engine if he had a cap for the bottle. He said he didn’t. I saw that he had thumbs and thought to myself it was the next best thing to a cap and they were much easier to keep track of.

It was a short ride, and he could have easily walked it in ten minutes, but this is how it works

After he filled the bottle with 15.9 ounces of fuel, he paid, stuck his thumb in the bottle, and we headed back to the trail.

I asked him where his shoes were. He said he doesn’t wear them much in the summer. I asked if his feet hurt. He explained that once you go without shoes for a while, your feet become calloused and they don’t hurt a bit. I told him I never could get used to it, even when I was his age. He was fifteen, I had guessed a little older.

The kid told me he really liked the convenience of not having to put on shoes before he left the house as well as the amount of time he saves each day by NOT having to tie them. We both laughed. The kid had a good sense of humor, self, and direction.

I dropped him off, made sure his wheeler started, and headed east again. I couldn’t help but think the kid had it pretty well figured out. Sure, he might have needed to be a better estimator of fuel mileage, or did he?

I picked up Dave about a mile down the trail and he said other than the heavy mist, he felt a little better walking off the pie. I told him about the young man’s answer regarding the shoes. Dave thought it made perfect sense.

In the simple everyday encounters most of us picture ourselves as the person doing the helping. I don’t think that’s always true.

As you go through life it’s always better to be awakened by a light mist on your face, skipping the entree and going straight for the raspberry cream pie, stopping when someone needs help, talking less, listening more, and don’t get all worked up over unnecessary daily tasks. Those can be a waste of valuable time. Allowing ourselves to toughen up against the inevitable, and sometimes endless, onslaught of painful encounters might also be a takeaway.

The kid was a genius and he barely said a thing. I never did get his name but he would have told me if I needed to know.

What are you doing this weekend? We like to know. Give us a brief rundown if you find the time to tickle the keyboard with your plans.

Tell us where you are and how you plan to take this weekend by storm. It’s nice to write it down so others can enjoy it. It’s a big neighborhood and we can’t always see each other from the porch.

All we have is each other.

Keep your hands to yourself, leave other people’s things alone, and be kind to one another.


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