Monday, April 02, 2012

And Every Handout in Every Town (Part Two)

The first night we were in Kanab, I had to dash outside into the  freezing darkness to get something from the car. Sprinting back in, I noticed something and slowed down. Then, I stopped. And then, I ran in to get Daughter.

“Put on your shoes,” I ordered, “you’ve got to see this.”

“But,” she whined, “I’m warm and exhausted.”

I fixed her with a hard look.

“Put on shoes.”

I dragged her outside. She shivered and looked at me expectantly. I silently pointed upwards at the sky, at the stars. She looked up. When you’re from a big metropolitan area light-pollution emitting place such as Los Angeles, you could accurately describe the night sky as “The faded navy blue place with the moon.” If you’re observant, you might see a star or two a week. For the past month, we’ve had two planets up there and that was stylish. This sky mocked any attempt at counting; were there a thousand celestial sequins or were there a thousand in just that corner over there? It was light enough to read print. If living in Los Angeles means looking around at all the stuff you want and believing you’re just one contract away from being the most important person in the world, living in Kanab must mean occasionally looking up at all the stuff that is and realizing you’re not important at all. Looking at these stars was some version of freefalling. We reveled in it all. After a couple of minutes, Daughter said, “This is very cool, but I can’t feel my earlobes any more.”

Existential perspective gave way to warm earlobes. We went inside and turned in.

We drove on to the Best Friends sanctuary the next morning for our training and learned another lesson:

LESSON THREE: Best Friends isn’t playing.

If you have an appointment for the 9:00 tour, do not arrive at 9:06 and expect them to still be getting people on the bus. I’m usually pathologically punctual, but when we went to the front office at the motel to grab some breakfast, Daughter got trapped in the gravitational pull of Foo’s charm.

Our official training began at 11, so we spent the time walking around gazing at the rescued horses frolicking in the fields, the rescued pigs strutting around self-importantly, the rescued goats angling for my jacket as I leaned against the fence. As much as I liked them, they couldn’t have my jacket, as I needed it, as it was still wobbling around freezing. Daughter entertained herself by jumping on frozen grass on and listening to it crunch. The manager of our motel had told us the weather was expected to reach eighty degrees by the end of the week. “That’s springtime in Kanab for you,” she said, shrugging.

LESSON FOUR: Kanab isn’t playing, either.

At 11, we trained and got our schedule. Every morning, from 8:15- 11:30, we’d work in one area, then we’d have lunch, and then we’d work in another area from 1:15-4:00. Because the kid isn’t twelve yet, we were put in rabbits, cats and dogs. Some day, my daughter will throw a complete adolescent fit in public and I’ll cut her slack because of the fit she didn’t throw at Best Friends when she learned she couldn’t work with the horses. Trying to convince her that rabbits, our first stop, are very much like tiny horses did remarkably little to lighten her mood. Perhaps food would help.

Small note about the cafeteria; the food is fine. Vegetable things, pasta things, some fruit. If you go, you will not notice what you’re eating because this is the view:

Pasta salad really doesn’t stand up against a glimpse of The World Before Man.

And then, rabbits! And, of course, antihistamines, because while I’m a bit allergic to some dogs and somewhat allergic to most cats, I’m wildly allergic to rabbits and hay. My protocol for the trip was Benadryl at night, Claritin during the day, and an inhaler tucked deeply into my back pocket at all times. That the rabbits have runs which are half indoors and half outdoors—thereby providing me with precious gulps of air not woven with allergens—made it all the more tolerable. I was positively sanguine, watching Daughter brush and hand-feed specially selected rabbits, trudging up and down the hillside to the far rabbit yurts, doling out cilantro and lettuce to worthy rabbits. I saw wild turkeys strutting around. I basked in the silence, as exotic and infinite as the starry sky the night before. Daughter had forgiven the universe for the lack of horses and was angling to adopt at least six of her new friends. I had done the right thing, bringing us here.

Five minutes before the end of our shift, I reflexively tapped my inhaler-pocket. Then, I tapped it again, and followed that with tapping the other pocket. Several pocket-taps later, I finally admitted I had lost my inhaler. I retraced my steps from yurt to yurt, then in the yurts, to no avail. Somewhere in the cilantro-doling and lettuce-strewing, I had dropped my inhaler and it was nowhere to be found. This didn’t bode well for the week. We finished our shift and drove back to the motel in silence.

LESSON FIVE: Small towns can be challenging.

I made a quick call to my ENT doctor in LA from the room; I could have a local pharmacy call them and it could be replaced! Now, to find a pharmacy in a town with two stoplights. Surprisingly, there were two, but both were closed for the night and wouldn’t be open again until after we were supposed to be working the next day. I chose not to think about this for the moment and find us some dinner. Yelp and the motel manager both recommended a nearby Mexican restaurant. I like the manager and I don’t want to sound like a snobby LA person, so I’ll keep my comments positive. The salsa was pretty good. What else can I say that’s positive? Oh, here’s one. Until that night, I was almost positive you couldn’t screw up rice and beans. There are five restaurants in town and this was the most lauded; something told me we’d be here again. I stared moodily at my food and pined for my inhaler. The nearest town large enough to support a 24-hour pharmacy was an hour and a half away. This is what living in a small town means. Daughter alternately read her book and noted how little room a rabbit would take up in the car, were we to bring one back from Kanab.

We got back to the motel; the manager was at the front desk. Daughter fell upon Foo,

who seemed thrilled about this. She asked how our first day had been. I raved about the good stuff and mentioned my lack of inhaler. The manager clucked her tongue sympathetically, grabbed the phone and said “Let me call Clyde.”


“The pharmacist.”

“Don’t worry about it,” I protested, “Besides, the pharmacy closed at five.”

“I’m calling him at home. He lives right around the corner. He can go back and set you right up.”

LESSON SIX: Small towns can be wonderful.

Come to think of it, the salsa was actually great.


Anonymous the golddigger said...

This is what living in a small town means.

Which is why those of us who have lived in or spent a lot of time in very small towns have no problems when a Wal-Mart opens near one.

12:15 PM  
Anonymous the golddigger said...

“I’m calling him at home. He lives right around the corner. He can go back and set you right up.”

And that's part two. As in, when you are visiting your grandmother in the small town that doesn't even have a stoplight, you can cash a check at the bank without showing ID because the teller will say, "Oh! You're Helen's granddaughter! I went to school with your uncle Ron."

In the days before ATMs, of course. Now who cashes checks any more?

12:17 PM  
Blogger Debbie St.Amand said...

I have to laugh a little. When my son and I volunteered at the Wildlife Care Center here, taking care of the rabbits was the assignment we always desperately wanted, but we usually got stuck cleaning the chicken coops! Then again, they didn't have horses. I'd have definitely wanted those if they had!


1:48 PM  
Blogger Blondie! said...

Yay! A new post! I was wondering what happened at Best Friends. Glad you got a replacement inhaler.

2:27 PM  
Anonymous --Deb said...

Just ... love.

2:31 PM  
Blogger Twisted Susan said...

I love a happy ending.

5:59 PM  
Blogger Judy said...

So glad that ended well. I was starting to not be able to breathe.

8:56 AM  

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