I used to work for an asphalt paving/sand and gravel/landscape supply company here in the Swirl. Pat was the second person I met there; he is the sales manager in the retail part of the company and we hit it off right away. I started out as a driver and often reported to Pat for retail deliveries. After about a year I moved up to be the dispatcher and part of my duties included assisting Pat at the retail counter. We worked together for several years. Some of the days were boring, some were hectic, some were extremely interesting (like the day the cops came and arrested the embezzeling blond from the accounting office) but no matter how the day was going, I could always count on Pat bringing a giggle to the mix.
One morning one of the girls from upstairs dropped off several empty one-gallon milk jugs for the drivers to carry extra fluids for their trucks. The jugs were all tied together by the handles; there were maybe seven or eight of them. Pat was talking to a customer at the retail counter when the owner of the company walked in and commented, "Wow, look at those jugs!" I thought Pat would break his neck spinning his head around...did I mention that Pat was fond of girls?...no matter what he was doing, he would drop it in an instant and rush to the side of any good-looking woman that walked into the retail area, shouldering out anybody else who was there to serve the customer.
I really wanted to talk about Pat and anthropomorphism, a big word that means attributing to animals attitudes, dialogue, or the emotions of humans. The family pooch takes a dump on the carpet and Mom says "He's angry because you didn't take him out". No...he dumped on the carpet because you didn't take him out, but he didn't plan it out of anger...he just did what dogs do.
We all anthropomorphize to some extent or another. But my old friend Pat is the best and most comical at this; he tells stories about his dogs and other animals that just crack me up.
Pat had an old yellow Lab and also a young black Lab that was nearly as big as the older dog but still a silly puppy (if you have ever had a Lab pup, could you think of a better word than "silly"?). They were both part gopher and caused Pat no end of trouble. They dug everywhere. So he invested in a single-strand electric fence, hoping to discourage them from digging around the fence line. The first time he let them into the yard after the strand was in place, they trotted off around their perimeter as usual, the yellow leading the way with his nose alternating from sniffing the ground to testing the air and the black dog frolicking along behind. The yellow dog made contact with the wire, yelped and jumped in the air, and then turned on the black dog and commenced to "beating the crap out" of the black dog. He then walked off, stiff-legged, chest puffed up, grumbling under his breath about young dogs having no respect for their elders and needing to learn a lesson or two, Pat reported.
One year we enjoyed an early spring with buds popping out on tree branches, bulb-flowers poking out of the ground, and birds and bees filling the air. Then we had a late spring blizzard that dumped six or seven inches of snow around town overnight. As Pat was pulling out of his driveway, he saw a big fat robin hunched up under the bush at the sidewalk, feathers fluffed out and head scrunched down between his shoulders, cussing about the weatherman and his lousy forecasts, according to Pat.
One Saturday in the late afternoon, Pat suddenly realized that he hadn't seen his black pup for some time. After a thorough search of the yard and house turned up no pup, he started asking his grandson (a beautiful three-and-a-half year-old who got his good looks from his mother's side of the family) if he had any idea where the dog could be. The tyke replied innocently, "Weeeelllll, maybe we should look in the garage or someplace like that...maybe he got in the car..." Sure enough, the pup was sitting patiently in the front seat. Immediately upon release from the car, the pup set upon the grandson, slobbery licks all over his face and hands. "He isn't mad, grandpa...he forgived me...he likes it in the car". Pat said the pup was just so happy to get out of the car he licked on the first person he could reach.
The sand and gravel place wasn't always a great place to work. But like all situations in life, there were times that were great. When I think about the seven years or so I worked there, the best days were always sprinkled liberally with Pat-isms. Lunchtime was always announced with some country-fied homily like, "I'm so hungry my stomach thinks my throat's been cut" or "I'm drowning in my own saliva." I think I'll give Pat a call, haven't talked to him since Peyton signed with the Broncs...