Getting Lost in Phoenix With Layla I have no sense of direction, especially if I don’t know the area well. This was particularly true as I drove the moving van with the car hauler attached into Phoenix, Arizona a few years back. Lying on the seat next to me were my two dogs, Layla and The Old Man.  The journey from Las Vegas to here had taken a lot longer than I had planned, especially because of an unplanned stop at a veterinarian office in Kingman, Arizona a few hours earlier. The Old Man, because of an eardrum injury he got as a puppy, before I got him, had a problem with getting carsick on any drive of more than a handful of miles. A mild sedative usually solved the problem, which my vet in Las Vegas had given him just before I pulled out of Sin City. The problem was it was a little too strong. I had not counted on him trying to jump down out of the passenger’s seat to the ground on our first break so I could stretch my legs.  He did a face plant right into the gravel, driving his canine tooth into his upper lip. The only one pleased with the resulting carnage was Layla, my white boxer.  She proceeded to clean his wound for the next couple of hours until I was able to locate an open vet’s office. I apologize to the middle-aged couple in the beautiful black stingray that happened to be at our parking lot in Kingman. I am sure it was a shock to witness two dogs, whose muzzles were red with blood, stare at you! The white one’s chew toy was a rubber chicken, mauled so badly it might be mistaken for a human hand. I assume that is why you peeled through that red light so quickly! An hour, stitches, and a much stronger sedative later, we were on the road again. The two hundred mile drive flew by. The Old Man was asleep to the world. Layla stayed the clown that she was. I navigated with the help of the Tom-Tom to our new residence for the next three or four months. In my world, the GPS is one of the greatest instruments ever invented. It lead me right to my destination, which was amazing because certain sections of Phoenix are specifically designed to be difficult in order to keep outsiders out. The streets weave and curve, there are miles and miles of giant walls everywhere, and even some of the sidewalks on major streets are built to dissuade foot traffic. You really have to know your way around in order to feel comfortable. I carried The Old Man into the house and placed him on the cool tile of the entryway.  I was glad he was asleep. Keeping an eye on both Layla and him would have been difficult as I moved my things into the garage. I plugged my cell phone in, as the battery was dead, and placed my wallet next to it on the kitchen counter so I would not loose it.  As Layla was deaf, I gave her the hand signal to stay extra close to me as I carried boxes and my worldly possession into the garage.  Everything went smoothly, except for getting my car off the car hauler.  I couldn’t just drive it off. The tires just kind of spun. So, I had to put the car in neutral, rock it back and forth until the back tires slipped over the lip of the hauler’s gate. I am sure it was a perfectly wonderful way to introduce myself to my neighbor cursing and chasing a driverless car down the street. It was dark, I was exhausted, and The Old Man was still asleep. It was almost midnight and it had been a long day. I was done. The only thing that could have possibly surpassed my exhaustion at that moment was my cheapness. If I got the U- Haul to the nearby dealers before the opening of business tomorrow morning, I got a small refund, music to my Norwegian ears. It was only a couple of miles away. I rubbed The Old Man’s head, told him we’d be back before he awoke, grabbed Layla’s leash, and she and I climbed into the van.  What is a twenty or thirty minute walk, even as sweaty and tired as I was, especially when you are talking money put back in my back account?  It was going to be just a few short minutes. Well, a few short minutes if I had not forgotten about my phone and wallet sitting on the kitchen counter. A few short minutes if I had known that the street the U-Haul dealer was on was being torn up and widened so that even major parts of the sidewalk were removed. A few short minutes if the battery on my Tom-Tom was not almost dead. A few short minutes if I was not about to discover that I was the biggest moron on the planet. Even with the road construction seeming to take me all over creation, I had no problem following the arrows until it rerouted me to where I was supposed to go. I was even proud that I had not bumped an orange cone or sign with the large truck. I am sure I even heard the sound of a cash register as I dropped those keys into the night deposit slot. Here is the first lesson I learned. If you have a dog that cannot hear walk on the sidewalk against traffic, not with traffic, especially when the sidewalk is right against the road. If a car is cruising down the road coming up on you, the first thing a deaf dog notices is the gust of wind the car makes as it screams past you, followed by seeing it out of the corner of her eye a fraction of a second later. Layla was a sensitive soul. This scared the heck out of her, causing her to go catatonic. She froze right there on the spot. She had done this before when she got overwhelmed and I knew she would come out of it in a few hours. What do you do when you have a dog that is not going to move an inch? All the lights were on, but she was not home. She was unresponsive. It is the middle of the night in some strange city, with not an open business to be seen for miles. I picked her up and placed her on my shoulder like those beautiful paintings of Jesus carrying the baby lamb.  Those painting don’t show the part where every muscle of the lamb relaxes. Let me repeat, every muscle relaxes. Any proof I needed that this was true became evident on my already ripe with sweat smelling shirt about ten minutes later. Second lesson learned that night; no taxi cab driver in the world is going to pick you up when your shirt looks like a Jackson Pollack painting and you have a white sixty-five pound dog draped over your shoulders.  In fact, they will accelerate. So, no wallet, no phone, no way possible I am going to get a taxi home. It was then that I noticed there was no sidewalk in front of me. It had all been torn up as far as the eye could see. Now, in the television series Mission Impossible, they always have that brilliant graphic of a dynamite fuse burning to relate to the viewer the urgency of the mission of that week’s episode was. Now instead of a mission to save the world, imagine a dog that has not answered the call of nature since Las Vegas, waking up by himself in the entryway of a brand new spotlessly clean house. Third lesson I learned that night; Tom-Toms, if you are not on the street, logically conclude that you are on an unknown side street and will give you directions to get you back on the street where you belong. While its telling you to turn right is just a matter of moving over a few feet at an intersection, when you are an idiot like myself, you turn right and go down whatever street you are at the intersection of. I naturally turned into one of these giant gated communities with very few ways in and out. The Tom-Tom will try to reroute you to get you back to the street that you were supposed to be on, but it might send you several blocks out of the way to do it. Lesson number four; write down your new address on a piece of paper. The Tom-Tom battery went dead. When you are extremely tired, your brain begins to play tricks on you. When you try to remember an address you only learned about a day or two earlier, your brain will begin to reverse numbers and even question the name of the street. I had to admit I was totally lost! At 4 a.m. the first blister appeared. An hour later, it had sent out party invitations to its friends. The whole time in the back of my head there is that Mission Impossible theme. Limping, Layla around my neck, I also knew that most of the homes around me were owned by snowbirds. It was the beginning of summer and there were entire streets where no one was home. So, even if I knocked on a door, there were pretty good odds that I would get shot. This was Arizona after all and old white people do like their guns. Heck, with how I looked, I would shoot me. Five, six a.m. golf courses and parks began to look the same. Had I seen them before or was my mind playing tricks on me? By seven, I was imagining what some lawn guy was going to say when they found my sun-bleached bones in a Minnesotan’s yard. I don’t know if you know this but Arizona gets hot, devil with a pitchfork hot, by midmorning.  No one goes out. You might be surrounded by thousands of people, but they are not going to venture out of their air-conditioned comfort. My shoe soles were melting into the asphalt.  This was the Bataan death march.   It was then that I saw her, an angel with a walker, okay, an incredibly old, wrinkled and gray angel, but angel all the same. She was a block ahead of me. I tried to call, but was too parched to utter a sound. I tried to catch her, but this woman, who probably played pinochle with Ben-Hur as a child, was moving like a cheetah, okay, more like a tortoise on a Xanax, but she was lapping me. Still, I was going to catch her. Well, that lasted about two blocks until I lay down to die like the tough guy I am. I gave up. Layla next to me, I passed out waiting for either the police or death to take me. I fell asleep. I awoke, Layla sleeping next to me, to see this gray angel standing over me. “Is this heaven?” I tried to mutter. “Are you Trevor?” she asked. “How did you know?” I was able to get out. “I’m your new neighbor and that is your house,” she said, pointing behind me.
Getting Lost in Phoenix With Layla I have no sense of direction, especially if I don’t know the area well. This was particularly true as I drove the moving van with the car hauler attached into Phoenix, Arizona a few years back. Lying on the seat next to me were my two dogs, Layla and The Old Man.  The journey from Las Vegas to here had taken a lot longer than I had planned, especially because of an unplanned stop at a veterinarian office in Kingman, Arizona a few hours earlier. The Old Man, because of an eardrum injury he got as a puppy, before I got him, had a problem with getting carsick on any drive of more than a handful of miles. A mild sedative usually solved the problem, which my vet in Las Vegas had given him just before I pulled out of Sin City. The problem was it was a little too strong. I had not counted on him trying to jump down out of the passenger’s seat to the ground on our first break so I could stretch my legs.  He did a face plant right into the gravel, driving his canine tooth into his upper lip. The only one pleased with the resulting carnage was Layla, my white boxer.  She proceeded to clean his wound for the next couple of hours until I was able to locate an open vet’s office. I apologize to the middle-aged couple in the beautiful black stingray that happened to be at our parking lot in Kingman. I am sure it was a shock to witness two dogs, whose muzzles were red with blood, stare at you! The white one’s chew toy was a rubber chicken, mauled so badly it might be mistaken for a human hand. I assume that is why you peeled through that red light so quickly! An hour, stitches, and a much stronger sedative later, we were on the road again. The two hundred mile drive flew by. The Old Man was asleep to the world. Layla stayed the clown that she was. I navigated with the help of the Tom-Tom to our new residence for the next three or four months. In my world, the GPS is one of the greatest instruments ever invented. It lead me right to my destination, which was amazing because certain sections of Phoenix are specifically designed to be difficult in order to keep outsiders out. The streets weave and curve, there are miles and miles of giant walls everywhere, and even some of the sidewalks on major streets are built to dissuade foot traffic. You really have to know your way around in order to feel comfortable. I carried The Old Man into the house and placed him on the cool tile of the entryway.  I was glad he was asleep. Keeping an eye on both Layla and him would have been difficult as I moved my things into the garage. I plugged my cell phone in, as the battery was dead, and placed my wallet next to it on the kitchen counter so I would not loose it.  As Layla was deaf, I gave her the hand signal to stay extra close to me as I carried boxes and my worldly possession into the garage.  Everything went smoothly, except for getting my car off the car hauler.  I couldn’t just drive it off. The tires just kind of spun. So, I had to put the car in neutral, rock it back and forth until the back tires slipped over the lip of the hauler’s gate. I am sure it was a perfectly wonderful way to introduce myself to my neighbor cursing and chasing a driverless car down the street. It was dark, I was exhausted, and The Old Man was still asleep. It was almost midnight and it had been a long day. I was done. The only thing that could have possibly surpassed my exhaustion at that moment was my cheapness. If I got the U- Haul to the nearby dealers before the opening of business tomorrow morning, I got a small refund, music to my Norwegian ears. It was only a couple of miles away. I rubbed The Old Man’s head, told him we’d be back before he awoke, grabbed Layla’s leash, and she and I climbed into the van.  What is a twenty or thirty minute walk, even as sweaty and tired as I was, especially when you are talking money put back in my back account?  It was going to be just a few short minutes. Well, a few short minutes if I had not forgotten about my phone and wallet sitting on the kitchen counter. A few short minutes if I had known that the street the U-Haul dealer was on was being torn up and widened so that even major parts of the sidewalk were removed. A few short minutes if the battery on my Tom-Tom was not almost dead. A few short minutes if I was not about to discover that I was the biggest moron on the planet. Even with the road construction seeming to take me all over creation, I had no problem following the arrows until it rerouted me to where I was supposed to go. I was even proud that I had not bumped an orange cone or sign with the large truck. I am sure I even heard the sound of a cash register as I dropped those keys into the night deposit slot. Here is the first lesson I learned. If you have a dog that cannot hear walk on the sidewalk against traffic, not with traffic, especially when the sidewalk is right against the road. If a car is cruising down the road coming up on you, the first thing a deaf dog notices is the gust of wind the car makes as it screams past you, followed by seeing it out of the corner of her eye a fraction of a second later. Layla was a sensitive soul. This scared the heck out of her, causing her to go catatonic. She froze right there on the spot. She had done this before when she got overwhelmed and I knew she would come out of it in a few hours. What do you do when you have a dog that is not going to move an inch? All the lights were on, but she was not home. She was unresponsive. It is the middle of the night in some strange city, with not an open business to be seen for miles. I picked her up and placed her on my shoulder like those beautiful paintings of Jesus carrying the baby lamb.  Those painting don’t show the part where every muscle of the lamb relaxes. Let me repeat, every muscle relaxes. Any proof I needed that this was true became evident on my already ripe with sweat smelling shirt about ten minutes later. Second lesson learned that night; no taxi cab driver in the world is going to pick you up when your shirt looks like a Jackson Pollack painting and you have a white sixty-five pound dog draped over your shoulders.  In fact, they will accelerate. So, no wallet, no phone, no way possible I am going to get a taxi home. It was then that I noticed there was no sidewalk in front of me. It had all been torn up as far as the eye could see. Now, in the television series Mission Impossible, they always have that brilliant graphic of a dynamite fuse burning to relate to the viewer the urgency of the mission of that week’s episode was. Now instead of a mission to save the world, imagine a dog that has not answered the call of nature since Las Vegas, waking up by himself in the entryway of a brand new spotlessly clean house. Third lesson I learned that night; Tom-Toms, if you are not on the street, logically conclude that you are on an unknown side street and will give you directions to get you back on the street where you belong. While its telling you to turn right is just a matter of moving over a few feet at an intersection, when you are an idiot like myself, you turn right and go down whatever street you are at the intersection of. I naturally turned into one of these giant gated communities with very few ways in and out. The Tom-Tom will try to reroute you to get you back to the street that you were supposed to be on, but it might send you several blocks out of the way to do it. Lesson number four; write down your new address on a piece of paper. The Tom-Tom battery went dead. When you are extremely tired, your brain begins to play tricks on you. When you try to remember an address you only learned about a day or two earlier, your brain will begin to reverse numbers and even question the name of the street. I had to admit I was totally lost! At 4 a.m. the first blister appeared. An hour later, it had sent out party invitations to its friends. The whole time in the back of my head there is that Mission Impossible theme. Limping, Layla around my neck, I also knew that most of the homes around me were owned by snowbirds. It was the beginning of summer and there were entire streets where no one was home. So, even if I knocked on a door, there were pretty good odds that I would get shot. This was Arizona after all and old white people do like their guns. Heck, with how I looked, I would shoot me. Five, six a.m. golf courses and parks began to look the same. Had I seen them before or was my mind playing tricks on me? By seven, I was imagining what some lawn guy was going to say when they found my sun-bleached bones in a Minnesotan’s yard. I don’t know if you know this but Arizona gets hot, devil with a pitchfork hot, by midmorning.  No one goes out. You might be surrounded by thousands of people, but they are not going to venture out of their air-conditioned comfort. My shoe soles were melting into the asphalt.  This was the Bataan death march.   It was then that I saw her, an angel with a walker, okay, an incredibly old, wrinkled and gray angel, but angel all the same. She was a block ahead of me. I tried to call, but was too parched to utter a sound. I tried to catch her, but this woman, who probably played pinochle with Ben-Hur as a child, was moving like a cheetah, okay, more like a tortoise on a Xanax, but she was lapping me. Still, I was going to catch her. Well, that lasted about two blocks until I lay down to die like the tough guy I am. I gave up. Layla next to me, I passed out waiting for either the police or death to take me. I fell asleep. I awoke, Layla sleeping next to me, to see this gray angel standing over me. “Is this heaven?” I tried to mutter. “Are you Trevor?” she asked. “How did you know?” I was able to get out. “I’m your new neighbor and that is your house,” she said, pointing behind me.