Laredo: Crazy evening

Man… is this normal?

I have a terrible cold and couldn’t sleep all night.  Seems that Clifford can sense when you are ill and tries to lay on you to console you.  I have occasion when I get upset and just need to lay down to let the day pass.  Clifford changes and seems to understand my mood.  Knowing when to play and when to just lay quiet.  None of the other dogs seem to have this sense.

Work was usual, but a little stressful.  A customer got uncharacteristically upset about something that was out of our control but easily blamed on our product because it is the middle man. Then a number of meetings and finally a call with a customer to go through their issues for the last month.  Not an unusual day in the life of a customer support organization.

But today was a crazy day coming home from work.  I left a little early at 5:30 only to sit in traffic backed up about a mile turning onto 606 from Herndon Parkway.  It was 99 on the car thermometer.  I waited in the long line of cars watching people cheat and go in the right lane to near the turn and then jump in front of everyone.  But, on occasion there are police in unmarked vehicles in the line that will pull the jumpers over.  There is a solid white line for the last 1/4 of a mile.  One got pulled over and I was amazed that the cop did it knowing he would have to stand out in this heat.

While driving home there were idiots in the right lane, then the left lane which usually is shorter near 28 was just as long as the normal line.  No big deal but unusual.  As I crossed over 28, two cars were weaving in and out of traffic cutting people off and trying to get to the backup on 606 near 267 (the toll road).  They got stuck and were about 5 cars ahead of me but then my lane just crept forward and I ended up in front of them.  I marveled at the irony.

Then just when everything comes to one lane, this woman pulls out in her white Lexus and does the thing that we all hate.  She pulls out of traffic into the merge lane where 267 merges with 606.  This is a common trick to jump about 20 cars by pulling into the merge lane, going forward and the people at the front don’t realize that you didn’t come in off of 267 so they politely let the car in.  But I saw her jump lanes and she comes zipping up and then hovers just to the right front of me wanting in.  I hugged the car in front of me and she pulled in behind me making hand gestures and you could see her mouth going 90 miles an hour.  I just slowly raised my right hand and lifted the middle finger.  There was this long pause and then she was just going crazy in her car.

When we got to the point where you can turn around, she did a U turn and spun out going the other direction.  I was quite happy… so I kept driving along… mind you that I am now on the part of 606 that is just 2 lanes (one north and one south).  As I am sitting there, I see dust kick up about 20 cars behind me and see cars in the northbound lane diving off the road toward the ditch.  Car after car runs off the road.  So I think there is an accident or something.  Then as we keep creeping forward, I see this little black car driving in the wrong direction in the northbound lanes.  It was a little old man… and he was just riding along with traffic… not going faster, not going slower, riding in the wrong direction.  People in my lane stopped and he just kept on going.

Meanwhile, in the area where 606 splits up at the warehouses and creates a 3rd lane in the southbound lanes where everyone whips out and passes slower vehicles, this blue mustang is about 4 cars in front of me and she jumps out and flies down the road and cuts someone off about 20 cars ahead of me and gets in traffic.  I think… ASS!

Finally when we get to where the Arby’s is, the little ole man pulled in behind me.  I noted his license tag as WYL-7877.  I thought about calling the police but didn’t.  There must have been 50 cars either in the ditch or getting out of the ditch.  The little old man continued behind me like nothing had happened and stayed in the lane.  Even when we got to where 606 goes back out to 4 lanes… he stayed in the right lane and kept a pace about 5 cars back.

So, I keep driving, past Arby’s…. Past the AEDSA, and to the area where 606 is 4 lanes.  The little old man is driving normal now.  And the blue mustang is weaving in and out of traffic.  I see behind me that the black Lexus and the other car that were weaving in and out of traffic start doing the same thing.  But they never were able to pass a bunch of Mexicans in a white truck that was keeping pace with the Prius beside him.  They kept switching lanes but never passed.

Finally… on route 50.  The mustang is weaving in traffic, but somehow chooses to get behind someone that is going to turn into Stone Ridge and I end up passing the car.  It is a blond woman and she is crazy frustrated.  Gunning the mustang and tailgating the car in front of her.  But she can’t get over to the right lane.  By the time we get through the light at the Harris teeter, the little old man that was behind me that also turned onto 50 is now in front of her.

So, we are driving down 50 at about 60.  A red Jetta is in front of me and acting kind of crazy.  He is gunning it and then weaving to pass the Prius in the left lane and the truck in the right lane but can’t get around either.  Finally the Prius passes the truck and the red Jetta passes the truck.  Weaves around and then speeds up.  I passed the truck and am just passing the Prius as 50 goes back down to 2 lanes.  As I pass the Prius, the blue mustang comes zooming up and cuts off the Prius and is now behind me.  She is hovering right on my bumper.

So… what did I do… I slowed down.  It is Red Jetta, me, Blue Mustang, Prius, old man.  We go down route 50 and I kept pace with the Jetta but didn’t go over 60.  The blue mustang just hugged my bumper.  I let a good 6 car lengths get between me and the Jetta and she was just gesturing like crazy.  I didn’t purposefully go slow, but I kept a wide gap.  We got to the area that you can pass on 50 before the circles, but there was traffic so she didn’t get a chance to pass.

I did my usual and let off the gas at the Monk’s place at the top of the hill before the circles and coasted down to the circles.  In the truck, this slows down so that I am at 25 when I get to the bumps in the road at the 25mph sign.  In the BMW I am at about 35.  I just let it coast but the blue mustang hugged my bumper.  The Jetta had kept going at full speed (note that there is often a cop at the top of the first circle that catches people doing this but he wasn’t there today) so by the time I had gotten to the circle, the Jetta was not in sight.

I coasted around the circle at about 30 and then coasted down the hill to the next circle.  The blue mustang was probably smoking as you could see her mouth moving as I coasted down the hill toward the middle circle.  Note that I always do this as does most of the traffic so I wasn’t being my usual mean self.  But I was keeping an eye on the blue mustang.

After going through the final circle, I had caught up to traffic and was behind about 4 cars.  We followed speed limit through Aldie and then the speed limit went up after the Aldie dam.  That is where there is a passing zone.  I kept pace with the other cars and the blue mustang pulled out like she somehow thought that she was going to pass 4 cars in a row in that short stretch.  I didn’t slow down but didn’t speed up.  She got right beside me and then decided she wouldn’t pass and had to drop back.

I kept pace with the other cars, but when I finally got to our drive, I slowed down.  Now this is where I did finally get mean.  I didn’t just slow down and do my usually fast turn onto the gravel.  I slowed down like most people and turned at 20 mph.  Well… she was already furious so now she just held down her horn as I turned to the drive.  I lifted my finger and she got a good look at it and just started pounding the horn.  After she passed, I saw the Prius and the little old man drive by as I drove down the gravel road.

Now, you are thinking… hum… interesting story… but what does this have to do with Laredo, let alone dogs in general.

I get home, park the car, gather the mail and my computer and go into the house. The dogs are all happy as usual. Mike had only left about 15 minutes before (I know because I waved at him at the last circle on 50 just after the way station) so they didn’t even have time to get into trouble.

So, I go into the house, pat Remy and Cliff on the head, and then Kira comes slinking around the corner. I pat her and make sure to say hi to her (she gets special treatment). Then I drop the mail on the table and take my backpack with my computer to my office. They are all calm and orderly but I hear a yelping in the background.

So, I hasten my pace and go to the closet to take my dress clothes off and put on a pair of sweats. Mind you I have a terrible cold right now so I am sweating like a pig, so I dump the shirt and head down to the basement to let Laredo out of the cage.

When I get to the cage, it is like there is a cartoon Tasmanian devil in that cage. The beast is yelping and spinning in circles like it is trying to create a dust whirlwind. I unlatch the door and this creature bursts out off the cage and then starts spinning around in the room, starts barking, and then nips at the dogs and finally lunges after me and starts licking at any skin that is exposed. I start yelling “back beast! back!” but he just keeps spinning and jumping at me.

I rush to the patio door and fling it open. All of the dogs run out including Laredo and they run to the grass and the driveway. Then there is silence.

I take a deep breath and look at the herd of dogs, and they are all standing there on the patio or in the driveway looking back at me as if they want me to take them of a walk down the road like Mike does. I lower my voice, and say “do your job”. Kira squats where she is standing, Remy runs to the brick wall and lifts his leg, and Clifford runs to the weeping cherry and lifts his leg on the tree. Laredo… just stands there on the brick porch with his head turned sideways indicating that he doesn’t have a clue what I have said.

So, I start to close the door and all of the dogs panic and come running as fast as they can. This is a big difference between Mike and me. With Mike… the dogs manage him. With me… I lock their butts out if they don’t come in time. I just treat them like little children and don’t give them any second chances and they respond accordingly. But Laredo… who has only been here for a week and 4 days… just doesn’t understand. So, all of the dogs but Laredo run into the house before the door can shut and I close the door.

I stand there in the shadows watching Laredo. He stands there on the porch. His head turns to the left… then he straightens up and then turns twists to the left again. He is clearly thinking this through. He isn’t Darby…. who would see this as a chance to escape…. he is thinking this through. That inquisitive look and the head turns say he is thinking.

Finally… Laredo slowly walks up to the door with his hears held back. This is common for Labs to indicate that he is submissive and he looks at the door as if he wonders why he has been left alone. After a moment or two… or three… I open the door and his ears lift up… his tail curls… and he bounds inside the door… he has learned the lesson that all of my dogs learn.

So, I take them all upstairs, start my dinner, and sit down at my computer while my mush of exceptionally bland but digestible soup warms in the microwave.

But the evening isn’t over. As my soup heats and I sit contently at my computer thinking about the crazy drive home and thinking what I will write in this blog, I hear this loud barking. It is high pitched like Kira, but Kira is sitting right beside me. So is Clifford. So, I sit and listen as this high pitched bark keeps echoing through the house. I think “what is going on?” what dog is making this bark?

Well… I get up and look around the corner and it is Laredo. He is barking at his bed. I mean… barking like the bed is attacking him. He lunges at the bed, bites at it, and then jumps back as if it attacked him. Then barks. Eventually Clifford and Kira round the corner and they start barking with him. Then Remy starts his howl.

Funny how when one dog is barking or howling, all of the other dogs join in. Soon I have a bunch of dogs barking and howling. Laredo has long forgotten about the bed and is now howling with Remy. Remy howls, Laredo joins in, then Remy deflates his lungs and takes a deep breath while Laredo is finishing his howl, and Remy starts again. They are inciting each other. Clifford is now barking his head off while just standing in the middle of the foyer, and Kira is barking in the middle of the living room. They aren’t barking at anything…. just barking and howling. And with the 4 of them, they just keep it up.

Finally, I have had enough. I yell in my most gruff voice “Shut up!!!” (note that I can’t overly emphasize the volume that I can achieve when highly agitated… it was like the volume of a crack of thundar)….

And there is silence. I look around… and Kira is slinking off, Clifford is wagging his tail, Remy is just sitting there with a big woody, and … Laredo… just pissed himself.

The events are finally over. I go to the cabinet, open the brand new bottle of Makers Mark, calm myself, and take 2 shots straight up.

This is my life.

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