June 21, 2023 – The Dog Leg

I had worked in many hundreds of apartments and homes before I retired.

I saw and heard many interesting things.

I seemed to work in either the wealthiest of neighborhoods or the poorest. The differences were large and easily observed. But the results of those lifestyles aren’t always what you might expect.

What does a child at 18 years of age have to look forward to when driving a new Mercedes to high school? A great deal one might suspect, but that might be misleading.

If you give a child too much without he or she having to work for it, they might expect that to continue for many years and not get up out of bed and learn to make their own dreams come true.

My family was of very modest means and I went to work very young. We had a restaurant that we leased but lived in a very small trailer in back.

My father was a plasterer by trade and did side jobs when necessary. They were often necessary as the economy at this time in the early 60’s was faltering.

I often worked with my father on weekends when I was ten years old or so. I did that for many years and when I graduated high school, I went to work with him full time and started going to college at night.

This particular apartment building looked like the many others that lined the streets around it and the hundreds that I had worked in before.

We were called out to repair the interior walls of this apartment after the plumbing pipes had been replaced. There were many holes throughout the unit.

It was tidy as some apartments and homes are. Most seemed to be less so, as I remember them.

I had to climb into the cabinets under the bathroom and kitchen sinks or sit Indian style and reach deep into the deep, dark areas to do my work. It was difficult and kept me limber, if nothing else.

There was one hole behind the stove where the gas line had been replaced and we had to fix that to keep the bugs out and keep the heat in the apartment.

My helper pulled out the stove from the wall and I climbed in behind it and settled in. There were years of grease on the wall in front of me and on the floor. My hands and shoes stuck to the floor as well as the seat of my pants.

It was a little dark behind the stove and it smelled of bacon, pork chops and many other things. I was used to this now and it wasn’t an issue.

When I first started this type of work I was a kittle squeamish and naive. Now I was no longer a rookie and little surprised me or made me ill.

I once worked in a bath tub filled with…never mind.

I won’t go into detail here but only will say that I have seen things that you couldn’t dream of in your worst nightmare. Enough said.

I got settled in and lathed the hole with wire netting and had my helper mix up the plaster to fill it with.

It is a quick process and in twenty minutes I was done. The wall looked perfect of course. It always did when we were finished with our work.

On one job the owner didn’t want to pay us after a week of repairing holes in several of his apartment buildings because he couldn’t see where we had done the repairs after the painting was done. Isn’t that the point?

I finished my job and climbed out slowly from behind the stove. It was cramped and I had been uncomfortable, as usual.

My hands and the bottom of my seat were sticky and grimy, to say the least, with what was not worth thinking about. That was my lot in life during the many years that I worked. I just reminded myself that the work kept me limber and in shape due to the lifting and so forth.

As my helper and I pushed the stove back against the wall, the lower part of a white dog leg was left sitting in the middle of the kitchen floor.

We looked down and were stunned.

I leaned over for a better view and could see where the edge of a hot pan had burned through the leg and caused it to separate from the rest of the dog in the deep pan. It would take a deep pan to cook a small dog in, wouldn’t it, ladies? Perhaps a Dutch Oven would be the pan of choice.

We looked at each other and wondered about the circumstances that would lead to this type of event.

Poverty wasn’t the only thought that we came up with. In some cultures, dogs are eaten quite regularly. They are grown for that purpose and not to be simply pets.

When different cultures move to a new nation, their habits don’t necessarily change over night or should they. It takes generations for people to become accustomed to their new environment. Some never do and die wishing they had never left home.

I suppose I had already seen enough over the years so that I wasn’t too surprised by this event. I’m not sure that is a good or bad thing at the moment.

As this event happened we were shocked, as many might be. But on further reflection, it was just another day at work in someone’s else’s personal space.

A cow is a lovely living creature until it is turned into hamburger. A dog is just a small cow like meal to some. I will not pass judgment without more facts.

That reminds me of another dog related meal story for another time.

This story wasn’t meant to shock but to start us thinking about culture and travel, I suppose.

What was that meat you had on your last trip? Sorry.

“Sunrise, Sunset”, my book of ten short stories in now also available on Audible.