I’m trying to get to work on time, but walking isn’t as easy when I don’t have my glasses on. I keep running into things. Normally, my eyesight isn’t this bad, but I feel more than a little disoriented. I recognize people rushing by. I don’t see their faces. It’s all a blur to me, and I have to admit I like this better. I prefer seeing shapes rather than getting lost in every little detail and having to pay attention to everything. I normally can’t stop analyzing what I see. Is this person sad? Is that person judging me? Not seeing their eyes makes it easy not to judge them back.
Then, something hits me for a change.
I look at my feet and see a dog-shaped creature, which I assume must be a dog, only a very small one: a puppy.
“Hi,” I address the puppy as it comes closer, making excited little sounds and wiggling its tail.
“I can’t really deal with you right now,” I say.
It tilts its cute head to the side and I sigh. “I really have to get to work. I’m new.”
I begin walking away and I realize it’s following me. Of course a cute puppy would choose to follow me when I’m in a rush and not when I’m idling and needing company.
“Where’s your family? Go back to them.” I try to shoo it away but it doesn’t budge.
Three minutes pass by and the puppy’s still walking beside me as if we’re mates. It looks like a golden retriever mixed with something else but I can’t be sure. I decide to name it “Sunshine” for the length of our remaining journey.
Sunshine stumbles over my feet and I laugh, realizing I still have fifteen minutes but I need to get on another bus to work. Quickening my steps, I stop paying attention to the puppy. When I reach the bus stop I look behind me. The puppy’s not around. I imagine it must have followed someone else home when it failed to catch up to me but I feel a tiny paw on my leg and Sunshine looks up, whining. I kneel beside it.
“Are you hungry? I would love to get you some milk but I really really need to be at work soon. And the bus is gonna be here any moment now.”
Puppy jumps around as if it understands my words.
“Milk?” I try. It jumps again.
“Okay, here we go.” It’s a split-second decision and I will probably regret it but I take Sunshine in my arms and walk over to the store in the corner. Five minutes later we’re standing by the pavement and Sunshine’s drinking his milk. “Now… I should really be getting to work,” I say but Sunshine doesn’t care. He doesn’t have to work. He has access to free milk earned with true cuteness. I step away slowly, hoping he won’t notice my escape attempt but at the same time I’m expecting him to. I take another step and he’s not even looking up. I turn away and walk back to the bus stop. My job here is done. I’ll feed and bond with another puppy another day. So what if I feel kinda restless not knowing how he’ll get back to his home, and his family if he has one. Or what if I’m worried someone will be mean to him or hurt him? I can’t prevent every bad thing from happening, can I? I can’t protect the puppies of the world. Well, maybe just this one, I could. I shake off the doubt and see the bus ready to leave. I get on it at the last minute, my mind racing. Will Sunshine be okay?
20 minutes later, I’m at work and I’m late, which is simply great because I’m supposed to look good in my first month instead of looking like I’m slacking off. My co-worker smiles condescendingly while I remind myself not to get involved in office drama. “Not today, Satan,” I mumble.
“What?” He looks at me with a raised eyebrow.
“Nothing,” I offer a sweet smile. I just wish you were more interested in your own work instead of me, that’s all, is what I really want to say.
Then he winks at me. He actually winks. Who does that in real life?
I should have stayed with the puppy. Sunshine would never patronize me or enjoy each step I took towards my downfall.
I ignore my co-worker.
“You’re wearing contacts?” He asks.
“Why?” I offer another smile through my teeth.
“No, it’s cool. You look better this way.”
“Do I, now?” I’m not sure I can take more of this.
“Yup, way better. You looked like a chubby little nerd like that.”
My brain reacts with an image of a forest fire. Is it possible to be this obnoxious without meaning to be?
“Your observations are devastatingly profound,” I can’t help myself. “Maybe you should focus them on something more productive, like your work, which you’re paid to do.”
He goes silent, nodding.
Guess what? Now I’m a meanie.
I take my own advice and try to work for a while, 26 minutes to be exact but it’s not working. I’m not happy. For some reason Sunshine caused my level of tolerance to drop immensely and I can’t pretend. I want something fun, something genuine. My eyes hurt from trying to see the computer screen. I shouldn’t have come here at all. I don’t mean just for today, I should have never taken this job. I reach for my bag. Am I being impulsive? Cowardly? Am I overreacting? Maybe all of the above. I don’t care. I have a right to be happy. I write an email to human resources. I won’t be back. I’m going to take the job at the shelter. They don’t pay as much but I’ll get to smile more so that’s a plus. Also, I will be able to take Sunshine with me. Yes, I’ll have to find him first.
I get up. My coworker asks where I’m going. I turn to him. “I just resigned. Goodbye and thanks for helping me hate this job so much that I can’t ignore how unhappy it makes me,” I actually give him a real smile which makes him look at me like I’ve lost my mind.
Wait for me Sunshine, I’m coming to find you.